Seafarers’ Wages Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:47 pm on 20th July 2022.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Conservative 4:47 pm, 20th July 2022

My Lords, on behalf of the whole House, may I be first to congratulate my noble and learned friend and thank him for his many years of service to our country, to this House and to the legal profession? During the course of his speech, he exemplified just why he is held in such high affection by so many of those in the House today.

There is of course no one else quite like my noble and learned friend. As the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, pointed out, he is not alone in being a long-serving Member of your Lordships’ House—since 1979—nor in being a long-serving Member holding high office in a manner of true distinction. It is rather the way in which his personality has transcended those positions. He has brought a style and composure born out of his natural humility and intelligence, which makes me feel that, while this is a fitting occasion, it is also a very sad day indeed.

My noble and learned friend held the position of Lord Advocate for five years but is renowned for his role as Lord Chancellor, a position he held for 10 years to 1997. When that post was abolished from your Lordships’ House, Lord Howe of Aberavon thought it wrong because of the difference made by what he called the “looming presence” of the Lord Chancellor at the Cabinet table. It was my noble and learned friend who was that looming presence for so long.

He may well have stopped looming at the Cabinet table, but his presence in this House has been no less influential. From across the House, he is admired for his humility and moderation. My noble and learned friend still intervenes from time to time to make a point based not only on his great wisdom and experience but, perhaps most of all, on his humanity. To say that he will be missed from this House and our national deliberations is a severe understatement.

If ever an example were needed of how our United Kingdom benefits from a man who came from such a humble start in the Scottish highlands, the son of a railway signalman, and scaled the greatest heights of achievement and respect, it is my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. Throughout his years of service, and particularly during his time as Lord Chancellor, he has been wonderfully supported by Lady Mackay, who has been ever-present at his side. We will miss them both, as they head north to a calm, peaceful and well-earned retirement. All of us are better off for having known them, and we wish them well.

I turn briefly to the Bill—