And no doubt other Members' perseverance will be rewarded in due course.
Having appeared as No. 2 on the list, I cast around for an appropriate Bill to introduce. There were a number of very worthy topics—some have been debated on previous Fridays—that I carefully considered. I believe, however, that the Bill that I eventually chose to present is of crucial importance. For a start, it is supported by a huge range of organisations outside the House. I will not name them all, but they include the Association for the Conservation of Energy, Age Concern, Consumer Focus, the Disability Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Help the Aged, the Child Poverty Action Group and Unison. That will give Members some idea of both the scope of the Bill and the level of support for it among widely differing organisations.
It has been gratifying to receive the support of Members in all parts of the House, not just those who were happy to sponsor the Bill—to whom I am very grateful—but those who have simply wished me well, and those who have signed early-day motion 1069, tabled by Alan Simpson. As of today, 172 Members have supported the Bill by adding their names to the motion. I am grateful for the informal contacts that I have had with Members on both sides of the House, and particularly grateful to Labour Members, who have been fully engaged with the issues and have discussed some of them with Ministers. I am also grateful to Conservative Front Benchers, with whom I have had long discussions about the Bill. Although they favour the use of a slightly different mechanism to secure the Bill's objective, they have indicated that, should it prove necessary, they will support me in the Lobby.
The Bill is supported by many individuals, including councillors. I am sure that many Members will have received communications not just from their constituents but from their local councils, which have passed motions in support of the Bill's intentions. The reason for that is simple. The Bill is good for those living in poverty, a group that encompasses the old, young families and people with disabilities. It is good for the public health of the United Kingdom; it is very good for the environment; and, at a time when it is desperately needed, it is good for the economy. I believe that supporting it is a no-brainer.
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