I suppose that optimism must always be tinged with the well-tried phrase, ''This it is an amendment that the Government cannot support''. I have no doubt that the Minister is right and that amendments stand or fall on their merits. I am not referring only to this amendment, but to the fact that he knows my strong feelings and those of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam.
The Minister should be aware that my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire and I made it quite clear on Second Reading, that we wished to support the Government—help, aid and abet them—on the broad thrust of the Bill. We are acting in their support. The way in which the Minister and his colleagues have conducted themselves, especially on such an eminently sensible and practical amendment, leaves me a little nonplussed about the support that the Government can hope to receive in future. If they continue to prove themselves completely closed to reason, which is extraordinary frustrating to Opposition Members, they give no hope that if an emergency overcomes this country in the style that we have been discussing, the Government will hope to form the quick, effective consensus that the Minister described.
Despite those words, I recognise the complete futility of trying to beat my head against the Government's intransigence, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.