Bishop of Durham pays tribute to retiring Lord Speaker

On 12th May 2021 tributes were paid in the House of Lords to Lord Fowler, the retiring Lord Speaker. The Bishop of Durham spoke on behalf of the Lords Spiritual:


The Lord Bishop of Durham: It is my privilege to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, from the Spiritual Benches. I start with a specific reflection from these Benches on our leading of Prayers at the start of each day. The noble Lord was consistently considerate and courteous, taking the time to personally thank the duty Bishop for their prayers on each occasion. It was a small, kind gesture that meant more than he may have realised.

We all know of the noble Lord’s long-term, ongoing dedication and perseverance in addressing HIV. His patient persistence is admirable and notable. As he continues with this commendable work, as a UN ambassador, we trust he will further help it move forward. As it happens, this morning, before we began business, I was on a call with Christian Aid, for Christian Aid Week, with people from Kenya who were reflecting not only on climate change but the ongoing impact of AIDS in their country. It is work that needs to continue.

I always valued the noble Lord’s faithful speaking up for the work of this House. He challenged us to fulfil our responsibilities well, he saw how we could perform more fruitfully as a smaller number, and he never held back from criticising those who held the power of appointment when they failed to help us reform ourselves. May we all learn from his example of speaking graciously and firmly, his dedication, perseverance and determination to seek justice and the well-being of all.

I take this opportunity also to warmly welcome the noble Lord, Lord McFall, to his role as Lord Speaker. We have enjoyed—I say “we”, meaning me personally and other Members who sit on the Front Bench—many quiet chats before proceedings as he sat with us, ready to present business as Senior Deputy Speaker. They may not take place now. I say to the Lord Speaker that he is assured of our support in his role and of our ongoing prayers.

In conclusion, I return to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, and very simply say thank you for serving us all as Lord Speaker so extremely well.