Thank you, Mr. Gale, for that ruling.
The hon. Member for South-West Bedfordshire spoke briefly about people who are not covered by this legislation. The definition is narrow and it was praised as such by the shadow Leader of the House, so I am certainly not going to test his patience by widening it. The object of this exercise is to harmonise the law in Scotland with that in England and Wales, rather than to go further. I do not believe that it is within the scope of a private Member's Bill to attempt such a hugely ambitious endeavour—that would be a matter for the Government.
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North for his tireless efforts on behalf of his constituents. He, along with his central Aberdeen colleague and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Brown) did a great deal to bring this issue into the public's consciousness: they more than anyone else were responsible for laying the grounds that have led to us being here today.
I welcome the support of the Liberal Democrat party, as expressed by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. I take it from his remarks that this measure has the unqualified support of all parts of his party this morning and I welcome that. He spoke about the Sabbatarians and one of the unintended consequences of this Bill is that I have become something of a hero among the Wee Free community, which is a delightful if somewhat unexpected position for me at my time of life. I am enjoying it while it lasts.
My hon. Friend the Minister mentioned the consultation. I did not mention it because it was a
stand-alone consultation, although it obviously has implications for the measure that we are discussing. Therefore, I also extend my thanks to those who made the effort to respond to the consultation and to those who collated the information and provided it for the Committee in advance of today's discussions. I would especially like to thank all Members of this House and the Scottish Parliament who wrote in in support of the legislation.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.