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May I please ask for your indulgence, Mr Speaker? I have to go and chair a debate in Westminster Hall, but I should like, initially, to pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain. Bishop Rose has been an inspiration to us all, and one of the great joys of having an early question on the Order Paper has been to come into Prayers and hear the uplifting, spiritual and wholly Christian way in which she conducts Prayers.
When I came back into the House in 2001, after a short absence courtesy of an ungrateful electorate, you and I became friends, Mr Speaker. In fact, we always happened to sit near each other in the Chamber, on the third row back, quite near to where Mr Sheerman now sits. You always gave me good advice. I had been in the House a few years before that, but the House had changed a great deal. At that stage, you were, at different times, shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and shadow Secretary of State for International Development. We had some very interesting discussions. In fact, you were so robust that you made me look like an old-fashioned Tory wet and a moderniser. You also taught me something else. Whenever you jumped up to try to catch the Speaker’s eye, you had a habit of giving the back of the Bench in front a loud, firm kick. I will not try to demonstrate that now. It always worked, because Speaker Martin would look up, see you and call you to speak. On one occasion, when I was trying to get called, you were sitting next to me but not trying to get called. I started kicking the Bench in front, but Speaker Martin called you, even though you were not standing.