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Valedictory Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee 2:54 pm, 5th November 2019

I agree partly with what my right hon. Friend says. If he does not mind, I shall say something in a few moments about the Whips Office that may or may not get his approval, but let us see.

Less than a year after I entered the House of Commons, we faced a general election. I have to say that it was an unusual election as far as West Derbyshire was concerned because two parties got what they wanted. My Liberal opponent had posters up and down the constituency saying, “100 more votes this time”. I am very glad that he got his extra 100 votes, and I was even more pleased that I got an extra 10,000. Let us leave that to the side, but we should be careful what we wish for.

In 1989, I was invited by Margaret Thatcher to join her Government, and I went as a junior Minister to the then Department of Transport. One of the first issues that landed in the area I was responsible for, within a few weeks of my being at the Department, was the terrible Marchioness disaster on the Thames. As we have done in the previous debate, dealing with people who have suffered such tragedies is one of the more difficult parts of life in government, as it is when, as Members of Parliament, we have people who are hit by tragic circumstances and incidents that often cause the loss of life and the like. I think most Members of Parliament go out of their way to do whatever they can to help.

I served in several Departments before John Major appointed me to the Whips Office in 1995. I spent 17 years there, becoming one of the most long-serving and perhaps, as far as my party is concerned, long-suffering Whips. When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative party in 2005, he made me the Opposition Chief Whip, and then he made me the Chief Whip in the coalition Government in 2010. There, I was really ably assisted by John Randall, who is now in the other place, as my Deputy Chief Whip—really a man of great and outstanding ability and high principle—and by Mr Carmichael. I see in his place Norman Lamb, who was also in the Whips Office.