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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is my first time at this Dispatch Box. I have often wondered what the view would be like, and I must tell you that it is really not bad. [Laughter.] And I do not just mean the Scottish National party. I was lured, without difficulty but with great regret, from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee because of the challenges involved and the extraordinary fascination of the issues. I discovered on my first day the challenging, testing and strenuous nature of the Department: the Canadian swim technique of being welcomed to the Department, briefed, and then invited to manage two statutory instruments within four hours—on carbon budgets, I might add. I could not have been more pleased to do that, given the importance of the issue.
We have heard many passionate speeches about climate change from Members on both sides of the House. We have gone from the Oracle of Delphi, to the Philippines, to Swansea, to Malawi. We have gone from “Star Trek” to logarithms, and from bogs to lagoons. It has been a fascinating debate. There has been great expertise, some humour and some real wisdom displayed across the House. However, one very odd thing is that this has been an Opposition debate with remarkably little true opposition. We heard very eloquent words from Edward Miliband, who was very kind about the new ministerial team. We have had Dr Whitehead welcoming the fifth carbon budget. We have had the hon. Members for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) and for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood) praising the Home Secretary. Their tone has been absolutely admirable—constructive, bipartisan, intelligent and right— and it has been echoed by other colleagues across the House, particularly Callum McCaig.
What a contrast with the manufactured indignation of Opposition Front Benchers. You may know, Madam Deputy Speaker, that John Gielgud’s Hamlet was famous for its choked ferocity. He had the capacity to bring a tear to any eye, such was the intensity of his engagement. The Opposition spokesman managed to bring a tear to the eye of those in the House but, alas, it was a tear of laughter. He reminded me more than anything, in his histrionics, of Dame Edith Evans in the role of Lady Bracknell; but instead of declaiming about a handbag, he gave us a lot of nonsense about the Government’s record.