My Lords, at the final stage of this important Bill in this House, I take this opportunity to thank all noble Lords who have contributed to its passage, and without whose efforts we would not have been able to make such excellent progress. I thank my noble friends Lord Younger and Lady Buscombe for their diligent work in assisting me during the Bill’s passage. I greatly appreciate their support.
On behalf of the House—indeed, I believe I share the sentiments expressed by all Members across the House—I thank the Select Committee, which was so ably chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe. His resolute, compassionate and pragmatic approach in handling the business before him was impeccable and held in high admiration by petitioners, by the Government as the promoter of the Bill, and by his fellow committee members.
I also thank other members of the Select Committee for all their efforts and hard work. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, for her contributions, particularly in Committee and on Report; the noble Lord, Lord Young of Norwood Green; my noble friends Lord Brabazon of Tara and Lord Freeman; and the noble Lords, Lord Elder, and Lord Jones of Cheltenham. The committee served diligently for eight months, hearing over 300 petitioners, and made extremely valuable interventions both in Committee and on Report. I also thank noble Lords from the Opposition Benches. I have sat with the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, in sessions both in and outside your Lordships’ House, trying to address issues on which we did not quite agree. I thank him, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson—who unfortunately is not in her place—for their helpful interventions and the co-operative and positive approach they adopted in resolving any final differences that remained on the Bill.
I also thank all other noble Lords who have contributed to debates on the Bill and helped the Government make valuable improvements. It would be remiss of me not to make special mention of the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. Some things are originated by one Government and then handed over to another. I am sure the noble Lord will reflect with satisfaction on the fact that this baton has been passed on successfully. What now remains is the important work of getting HS2 built, and I thank him for his efforts. Outside this Chamber, I thank the officials at the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd, some of whom have been working for over five years on the preparation and passage of this hugely complex Bill, for their dedicated and conscientious efforts. I also thank our parliamentary agents, our counsel team and my private office for their help and advice in preparing the Bill and during the Select Committee phase.