Clause 8 — Desertion

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 22nd May 2006.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence) 5:45 pm, 22nd May 2006

We have debated this matter for about an hour and a half, and I am bound to say that Eric Forth would have approved of Parliament holding the Government to account in this way. I therefore make no complaint about the time taken to discuss these matters. Indeed, we have had an extremely good debate.

I should like to pay particular tribute to my hon. Friend Patrick Mercer, who undoubtedly brings real experience to the House and is prepared to share it with us. We should not take his advice lightly. I should also like to pay tribute to Chris Bryant, who is unfortunately not in his place at the moment. This was perhaps the only time that I have entirely agreed with everything that he said. That will probably do him more damage than me, but still—

I also salute Mr. Flello for his interventions. Both he and the hon. Member for Rhondda demonstrated the value of the armed forces parliamentary scheme, whose tie I happen to be wearing today, in case the Minister had not noticed. Their contributions, as well as those of others who did not mention that they had taken part in the armed forces parliamentary scheme, illustrate the great benefit that that scheme brings not only to Members of the House but to the armed forces.

I also welcome the Minister to his new position and congratulate him on his post. He has had something of a baptism of fire in having to deal straight away with a 300-clause Bill, which has a huge amount of detail. We wish him well, and I am trying to assist him. Clearly, the fire is coming at him from his Benches rather than from the Liberal Democrat Benches, and it is certainly not coming from the Conservative Benches.