Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:29 pm on 18th December 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Chief Whips, Whips 5:29 pm, 18th December 2008

My Lords, it is my pleasure and privilege to follow the noble Lord the Captain of the Gentleman-at-Arms in paying tribute to all staff of this House, both personally and on behalf of my colleagues on the Benches of Her Majesty's Opposition. As the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, has said, we are extremely well served in this House at all levels. The details that he set out today are evidence of that across the board. I thank wholeheartedly the officers and doorkeepers for their patience, courtesy and assistance, as the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, has said, often through very long and unpredictable days and nights. In addition, it is important to record the work of the police and fire staff, who all take great care to ensure our security. In the modern climate, that is a most difficult job to do day after day. We thank them all for keeping us safe. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, has put on record the remarkable service of Mr Stephen Ellison, who recently retired as Clerk of the Records. I add my congratulations to his.

I should like to put on record today the remarkable service to this House of Mr Peter Davies, who retired as our Deputy Librarian on 16 September. Without superb Library staff, the quality of work carried out by Peers would suffer incalculable damage. We are fortunate indeed to have the first-class service of our staff in the Library. They respond to the varied and exacting requests of Peers with unfailing professionalism and expertise. Even when asked to produce the impossible by yesterday, they manage it.

The standard of service in the Library has been developed and maintained to meet the demands of the modern information technology age by the work of Mr Davies over the past 30 years. After completing a PhD at the London School of Economics, Peter joined the House of Lords in 1978 as a Senior Library Clerk, one of a team of just two in those days to answer Members' research inquiries. Peter was appointed Deputy Librarian in 1991. He managed the Reader and Technical Services teams, the Library budget and business plans, all crucial work to ensure the provision of an effective service to Members. He played a lead role in strategic planning for the Library itself, ensuring that the standard of service for Members and other users is of the highest quality. He also represented the Library and the House as the public face of our work to external audiences. These activities brought him into direct contact with the House of Commons and a wide range of partner organisations such as those represented in the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation. I have been made aware that Mr Davies's quiet dedication to the service of the House is already much missed.

Finally, like the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, I wish Members and all staff every happiness for the festive season, and health and happiness for the new year.