I beg to move,
(1) during proceedings on the Health (Wales) Bill the Standing Committee, in addition to its first sitting on Tuesday 10th December at half-past 10 o'clock, do meet on that day at half-past 4 o'clock and on Thursday 12th December at five minutes to 9 o'clock and at half-past 2 o'clock;
(3) the proceedings on the Bill (so far as not previously concluded) shall be brought to a conclusion at Five o'clock on Thursday 12th December.
May I say how delighted I am that you are chairing the Committee, Mr. Griffiths? You were a distinguished Minister in the Welsh Office and achieved a great deal for the health service in Wales. I know that you have announced your intention not to seek re-election in the next general election, and that will be met with sadness in your constituency, as it will in this House. Over the years, you have made a major contribution to public life in Wales, as a Member of the European Parliament and of this House.
I know that the subject of this Bill is close to your heart, Mr. Griffiths; as a Wales Office Minister in 1997, one of the first things you did was to reiterate our commitment to reform and change and to the protection of our community health councils. I am indeed pleased to serve under your chairmanship and look forward to your guiding of these proceedings as expeditiously and successfully as possible.
I do not wish to detain the Committee long on this motion, which was keenly debated yesterday evening and received unanimous support.
I should like to add my and my party's delight that you are chairing the Committee, Mr. Griffiths. When you were a Minister in the Wales Office, improving the quality of the health service for all the people of Wales was at the forefront of your objectives. It was refreshing that you thought—and, sometimes, spoke—the unthinkable, when other colleagues were less frank. We are looking forward to two full days of debate on the Bill and I hope that our discussions will improve it.
I remind the Committee that the Bill has a financial resolution, copies of which are available in this Room. Adequate notice should be given of
amendments and, as a general rule, I do not intend to call starred amendments, including any reached during an afternoon sitting. I also remind everyone to switch off mobile phones.