Cheers as Black Rod steps down from House of Lords role

Cheering peers have marked the departure of Black Rod from the House of Lords and wished him well for the future.

David Leakey is stepping down as the senior official responsible for maintaining order in the Upper House at the end of this year.

The first female Black Rod in the 650-year history of the role, Sarah Clarke, will take over in the new year and will be known as the Lady Usher of the Black Rod.

Lord Speaker Lord Fowler said it was the present Black Rod's last day of service and there would be an opportunity for peers to pay tribute in the new year when his successor takes over.

"But until then I would like to place on record my thanks and thanks of the whole House and wish him well for the future," he added, to loud cheers from all sides of the chamber.

Black Rod's role is thrust into the public spotlight each year at the State Opening of Parliament when he or she is sent to bang on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs to hear the Queen's Speech.

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