My Lords, this feels a bit like the end of an era, because Mr Phipps has become a bit of a legend in your Lordships’ House. As we have heard, his journey from the Coldstream Guards to the longest-serving Principal Doorkeeper is one in which he can take immense pride. Much of his work will exist in fond memories—his own, ours and those of the many colleagues with whom he has served. It was also captured when he played a starring role in the 2017 “Meet the Lords” mini-series, an appearance—or should that be performance—that has earned him his own personal entry and credit on the IMDb website, which prides itself on being,
“the world’s most popular and authoritative source for information on movies, TV shows, and celebrities”.
Today we say farewell to a celebrity in our midst.
I first met Mr Phipps when I was a fairly new MP in the other place and had a group of constituents visiting from the men’s group at one of our local churches in Basildon. He will not remember this, but I remember it very clearly. I walked through the Peers’ Lobby with some trepidation and approached the imposing-looking gentleman in a white tie. Very politely, I asked, “Would it possible for my guests to sit below the Bar to get a better view of the Lords’ proceedings?” In rather imposing tones, he asked, “Are they all wearing ties?” Then, spying one member at the back of the group, he pointed and said, “He’s not wearing a tie; he won’t be able to get in”. Embarrassed and a little puzzled, I looked around at my guests and spotted the offender. I said, “But, Mr Phipps, he’s the vicar and he’s wearing a clerical collar”. He let him in. For a few years now, just to be on the safe side, one of our staff in the Labour Lords office, Rob Newbery, has kept a drawer full of ties to provide for any Peer or Peer’s guest who requires one.