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I am genuinely grateful to be appearing under your chairmanship, Mr Rosindell. This has been a lengthy debate. At one point, I thought I was in an episode of “Doctor Who”, because the debate started under the chairmanship of Sir Hugh Bayley, but the next minute—so absorbed was I in the speeches I was hearing—I turned around and it was you in the Chair, Mr Rosindell. I wondered whether the time lord had changed into a younger, more vigorous and, may I say, more handsome version. I am only kidding; I am a huge fan of the hon. Member for York Central, and I echo the comments that have been made about this being potentially his last chairmanship. I wish him well in the future.
I thank John McDonnell for securing the debate, and for his kind words, which I was not expecting. I am grateful for the kind things that he said about my work with local government. I am not entirely sure whether this is the last debate that Austin Mitchell will take part in. I gather that the Speaker is holding a special debate for retiring members, in which they can reminisce—at length, we hope—on their time in the Chamber. I wanted to say, after hearing the hon. Gentleman’s speech, that it is a privilege to speak in a debate led by so many distinguished old warhorses. I should make it absolutely clear that I do not include in that the hon. Members for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) or for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz). I include everybody else, however, including the official Opposition spokesman, Chris Bryant.
The partnership that I have built with the Opposition spokesman is pretty formidable. We are at the stage where we are beginning to finish each other’s sentences, and when he got up to speak, he nicked the line that I was planning to open with. There are many important reasons why Members participate in debates about local newspapers, but it should not go unnoticed that I made a note of every newspaper that was mentioned in the debate. Rather than mentioning every speaker, it is probably worth my mentioning the Braintree and Witham Times, the Maldon and something newspaper—I cannot read my own writing—the Llanelli Star, the Carmarthen Journal, the South Wales Guardian, the South Wales Evening Post, the new paper on the block, the Carmarthenshire Herald, the Western Mail, the Maldon Standard and the Essex Chronicle. My hon. Friend Mr Whittingdale gets bonus points for mentioning two journalists, Nina Morgan and Ally Grainger, whom he described as “excellent”. It will be interesting to see the coverage that they give him in the next five weeks.
I should also mention the Grimsby Telegraph, the Cleethorpes Chronicle, the Leicester Mercury, Martin Shipton—he has had mixed reviews during this debate—David Williamson, the Liverpool Echo, Nicola Adam, The Visitor and the Lancaster Guardian. I give a special mention to the Richmond and Twickenham Times, in which I hope to appear tomorrow following my visit to the Orleans House gallery in Twickenham with the excellent Conservative candidate Tania Mathias; and to the Brentford and Chiswick Times, in which I hope to appeartomorrow following my visit to the Watermans arts centre this morning. Having grown up in Chiswick, I know all about the work of Erin Pizzey, and I used to read the Brentford and Chiswick Times regularly. I will also mention the
Walsall Express & Star
Scunthorpe Telegraph and the