Wednesday of last week was the final sitting day before the summer recess. The conclusion of the sitting was unusual because members broke into applause. It was the last sitting presided over by the current Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman. As she left the chamber, peers broke into spontaneous applause, in appreciation of all her work as our first Lord Speaker. Tributes will be paid when the House returns on 5 September – when the new Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, will be on the Woolsack.
Presiding over the sitting, though, was not the last formal duty of Baroness Hayman. I bumped her into at the beginning of this week at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association annual conference, being held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, just across the river from the Palace of Westminster. I was there to speak at a session, wearing my academic hat as much as my parliamentary hat. Baroness Hayman was there as Lord Speaker. It was her last official engagement – assuming, that is, that Parliament is not recalled in August. Baroness D’Souza takes up the reins of office on 1 September.