My Lords, it is an honour tinged with much sadness for me to follow the noble Lord’s valedictory speech. He was heard today, as he has been throughout his years in Parliament, with interest, respect and affection. He has been valued in both Houses of Parliament for his good sense, his expertise, his courtesy and his evident passion for the good of the country. I have known the noble Lord since 1983 and I have always been in some awe of him. He was an Olympic athlete, a sprinter, but in politics he has been noted not only for his speed but for his stamina. As he told your Lordships, he represented and served his constituents in Worthing in the House of Commons for 33 years.
Then the noble Lord came to your Lordships’ House and, as he mentioned, for part of his period in this House he took the opposition brief for work and pensions. I was very touched by what he said about my noble friend Baroness Hollis. I know that she relished such a worthy opponent across the Dispatch Box, how highly she rated him and how fond she was of him.
It has been my good fortune for the 13 years past to share an office with the noble Lord. He has been a kind friend and a wise counsellor to me during that time, and he takes no responsibility for the occasional extravagance of my views. I have noticed that he has experienced, as I have, some bafflement with the parliamentary IT system. I hope it is not the arrival of the new telephones that has finally driven him out. I imagine that he is really retiring for the natural and proper reason that at his age he wants to spend more time playing golf. Whatever the reason why he has chosen to retire, we wish him well and hope that he will still come and see us often.