Amendments made: 180, in clause 206, page 169,line 11, leave out ‘The following provisions’ and insert
‘Subject to subsections (1) and (3) to (6), provisions of this Act’.
Amendment 181, in clause 206, page 169, leave out lines 13 to 43.
Amendment 182, in clause 206, page 169, line 44, leave out from ‘provisions’ to ‘on’ in line 45 and insert
‘so far as relating to Wales come into force’.
Amendment 183, in clause 206, page 169, line 46, at end insert—
Amendment 184, in clause 206, page 170, line 7, leave out subsection (4).
Amendment 185, in clause 206, page 170, line 27, at end insert—
Amendment 186, in clause 206, page 170, line 29, after ‘202,’ insert ‘204,’.
Amendment 187, in clause 206, page 170, line 32, leave out ‘, (3) or (4)’ and insert ‘or (3)’.—(Greg Clark.)
Greg Clark (Minister of State (Decentralisation), Communities and Local Government; Tunbridge Wells, Conservative)
On a point of order, Mr Amess. Thank you for your guidance and advice, which have seen us through the Committee. On behalf of the Committee, I pay tribute to the way you have conducted proceedings, which has been firm and expert, but always genial. We have enjoyed hugely your presence in the Chair. I hope that you will convey to your colleague, Mr Bayley, our thanks for his equal diligence, expertise and patience with us. We are very grateful.
On behalf of my colleagues, I extend thanks to the Clerks who have served on the Committee. I do not know whether they consider that they drew the short straw, because this is one the longest Bills before Parliament. We are grateful for their expert handling of the many clauses and complex amendments. They have served us extremely well.
I am grateful, too, to the Doorkeepers. Perhaps the Doorkeeper who is present might thank his colleagues. Consideration of a large number of clauses and amendments involves many shouts and jumps up and down for the Doorkeepers to ensure that we are present and correct. We have been well served, for which I am grateful.
I also thank my officials who, as members of the Committee will have seen, have been dispensing inspiration from the first day of our proceedings. They have had the frustration of not always seeing their words of inspiration necessarily being translated into words that made it into Hansard, which must be a particular source of frustration and grinding of teeth. However, they have borne that willingly and courteously, and we are grateful to them.
I am sure that all the Committee will want to extend thanks to our Whips, on both sides, who have got us through this far. In fact, rather like our performance in the Ashes this summer, we have had almost an innings to spare to complete our proceedings. They have done that with only one of our number having to be transported to eastern China to keep us in order.
I think we all would agree that the Bill has had a thorough airing, which is a remarkable achievement. We have had time to consider each of the clauses, and have a little time at the end—I do not propose to use it all. The judgment and pace that the two Whips have reflected have ensured that, in the best traditions of Public Bill Committees, we have had the chance to consider, at the appropriate length, each of the clauses before the Committee. I have certainly enjoyed serving under the guidance of them both, for which I am grateful.
I thank all members of the Committee, who have been remarkable. The Bill has been wide-ranging in content, and detailed and expert in some of its particulars. When we began, I mentioned that the Committee was over-subscribed. Usually, the Whips have to threaten consequences to hon. Members for not serving on Committees, but on this one we had to let people down gently. All hon. Members have taken a determined approach to give the Bill proper scrutiny. We have heard speeches from both sides that have been passionate and committed, and have reflected individual experience of all the matters in hand. We have benefited greatly from the contributions of hon. Members from both sides of the Committee.
Our proceedings have been noticed elsewhere. Some of the conversations that I have had with some of the groups that follow these proceedings suggest that they have been impressed at the degree of scrutiny and the seriousness with which these matters have been approached. That is, in large part, a tribute to my fellow Ministers, who are experts in the area of which they have been speaking, and at the end of it, they are the world’s living experts on the areas that they have been leading on.
I would also like to extend my thanks to the Opposition Front Benchers. One thing that has been clear is that this has not been a ritual exchange of preconceived ideas, merely as an opportunity to read into the record party political and partisan views—quite the opposite. We have made progress; we have deepened our understanding. As the Bill progresses through Parliament, every member of the Committee will see reflected in it the improvements that the Committee, comprised of Members from all parts of the House, has suggested. I am particularly grateful for the manner in which the Opposition Front Benchers have conducted proceedings. It has made for a better Bill.
Finally, I thank Members and organisations outside the Committee Room for their advice. This is an important Bill for many organisations, whether they are voluntary groups or members of the planning profession. They have spent a lot of time and attention on helping to guide our discussions. I hope that they feel that we have listened and responded to their suggestions. We will continue to do that as the Bill continues its passage through Parliament.
Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South, Labour)
Further to that point of order, Mr Amess. On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to add our thanks to you and Mr Bayley. I think he is in an interesting place today. I forget where he said he was going—India, I think. Is that far enough for the Government Whip? You have both really helped us, particularly those Members and shadow Ministers who are new to their role. I remember speaking to you on the first day and saying, “You do realise that we are all new to this.” You have helped us—I am grateful for that—as have Mrs Davies and her team. The advice that they give is invaluable to those of us without parliamentary draftsmen and civil servants to back us.
I am always in awe of Hansard and its ability to turn what we say into a coherent debate. That is a great thing. I want to thank all the officials, if you can pass on the thanks to all the people who have been here, Mr Amess. We had at least one late night. I also want to thank the Doorkeepers, who are having to adjust to the new role of having two doors to deal with at once when there is a Division. I know that there are some anxious moments then.
I agree with the Minister that when we have argued in the Committee it has been on questions of principle. There have been some heated debates, as they are often called, but if it is about principle, rather than about personalities, that is as it should be. It has been welcome to have Liberal Democrat Members trying out the context of arguing within the coalition, even if it was only the hon. Member for Bradford East, who for ever dubbed Mr Amess as Mr Bradford, who followed through with his vote. I look forward to reports of more courageous stands at the Liberal Democrat spring conference this weekend. Let us hope that it does not lead to too much foreign travel.
I thank my hon. and right hon. Friends on the Committee. I particularly thank my fellow shadow Ministers. It is a lot of work to be the Opposition on a Bill. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View cannot be here, as she had to attend a family funeral. The passion that she brings on housing has enlivened our debate and I thank her for that. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington has brought wisdom, historical knowledge and humour to our proceedings. I hope that all the Dog and Duck pubs in the country are grateful for all the mentions they have had. Members will be saddened to learn that I checked and found that we do not have a Dog and Duck in Salford. We have a Dog and Partridge pub in my constituency, however. That is the closest we will get, I think.
I also want to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich, who has been delayed—I think he will miss this final sitting as well. He has the benefit of layers of experience of previous legislation, which I have found helpful. I thank him for his contributions. I thank all members of the Committee, particularly Labour Members, as they have brought to the Committee the wisdom and insight gained from experience. I feel that I know a lot more about Lewisham, Mitcham and Morden, Gateshead, Sunderland and Scunthorpe. The experience of Members—particularly in local government, housing and planning—has been valuable.
It is unusual to thank the Whips, is it not? I would particularly like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde, who stepped in at the last minute. That is a good thing to do, and I thank him for his work and patience. To the hon. Member for North Herefordshire I say that we have reached where we said we would reach.
I hope that Ministers, who have been very pleasant to work with, get lots of time to do all the reflecting and thinking that they have promised to do. I look forward to returning to our consideration on Report, because we have a bit of work to do to finish the Bill.
David Amess (Southend West, Conservative)
Cynical observers might regard the words that we have just heard as flattery, soft soap or flannel, but I do not. I greatly appreciate all the kind remarks that have been made, and I know that Mr Bayley would appreciate them if he were here. For us both, it has been an absolute pleasure to chair the Committee, not least because of the way hon. Members have conducted themselves.
At all times, our proceedings, which have been well informed, have been conducted with good humour and, most importantly, without pomposity. Considering that most hon. Members had not served on a Committee before, or indeed were new to their posts as Ministers or shadow spokesmen, the way the business has been dealt with, in time, has been quite remarkable. At a time when parliamentarians sometimes feel that they are under siege, the Committee has set a high benchmark. That reflects great credit on the way this Parliament and this Committee have conducted themselves.
I would also like to thank the Doorkeepers—or Doorkeeper—for looking after us throughout our proceedings and when we have had Divisions. I would like to thank the Hansard Reporters for the way they have served the Committee. Although it is none of my business, I would like to thank the officials for the way they have gently moved to their seats as we have gone from clause to clause.
Most importantly, I would like to thank the Clerk to our Committee. Without her wise counsel, the Committee would not have functioned in the way it has. I want to pay particular thanks to her for her encouragement throughout proceedings that I was not losing the plot.