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“the very foundation of refinement” includes
“green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside.”
My constituents in Market Deeping seek just those things, as they crave open spaces. I hope that the Leader of the House, in the time available—for there are two more days, after all—will allow time for an urgent statement on how planning policy guidance can be altered, so that open spaces are provided for communities such as those in the Deepings and future generations have the chance to choose to work, play and rest in them and enjoy them at their leisure.
Now to you, Mr Speaker—my friend. My wife said to me, “How will you manage when John goes?” I said, “I have no idea, I suppose will have to compete on equal terms.”
John Ruskin said that
“no cultivation of the mind can make up for the want of natural abilities”.
You, sir, have no such want. Indefatigable, irrepressible and incomparable you certainly are, but much more than that: in a time in which our politics is an unhappy marriage of hysterical hyperbole and technocratic turgidity, you have brought theatre to this place, and life and art to your role. Some of those on the Conservative Benches see that art as a sort of Jackson Pollock with a touch of Damien Hirst, but I see you more as Van Gogh, with a vibrancy and vividity, a colour and theatricality, which reveals rather than conceals sensitivity and deep humanity—for those are your qualities.
Many people have spoken of your achievements, the Education Centre and the change in balance between the House and the Executive prominent among them. The business of making this place alive and relevant, and giving our proceedings that very theatricality which gives life to our democracy, will be your most lasting legacy. That is why you are so widely known outside this place—and widely admired, by the way, too. I thank you profoundly for that. As our polemic has become increasingly strange, brutish and cruel as a result of social media—I have never seen it myself, but I understand that it takes place on computers and other sorts of devices—you have stood proud from that.
I thank you for all you have done. and I thank you for your friendship, which, of course, I hope and trust will endure long beyond the roles we now play. Thank you, Mr Speaker.