Part of Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 6th July 2004.

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Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office 5:00 pm, 6th July 2004

On a point of order, Dame Marion. Our proceedings are almost at an end, and I do not want the moment to pass without making a few remarks. I hope that you will forgive me for doing so. On my own behalf and I am sure on behalf of the whole Committee, I offer warm thanks to you for the way in which you and Mr. Benton have chaired our proceedings. You have done so effectively, but also with sympathy, which is much appreciated, particularly given the issues that we have discussed.

I also extend thanks to our Clerk, Mr. Cooke. I hope that he will forgive me for sharing this little secret with other members of the Committee: he has a young boy, Oscar, who I think is five or six months old and wakes him as a human alarm clock at five o'clock every morning. The fact that he has managed to stay awake during our proceedings has therefore been impressive, but he has done far more than that. He has been a very effective support to a number of hon. Members who wanted to discuss matters with him. We are very grateful to Mr. Cooke.

We are also grateful to the Hansard writers, who have been as diligent as ever.

I extend particularly warm thanks to the Bill team, who have been an effective support to me and to any hon. Member who has approached them for more information or explanation.

I thank all the voluntary organisations and other bodies outside this place that have helped so much to inform our deliberations by suggesting amendments, producing briefings and bringing their experience to bear in our debates. That is a very important part of the parliamentary process.

I thank the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Leslie), and my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for their effective support and the work that they have done.

I am indebted to the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham for the way in which she has approached our debates. Her concern in these issues has been evident throughout everything that she has said, and I do not think that any of us will hear a stray mobile phone ever again without reflecting on our proceedings here.

I thank the hon. Member for Beaconsfield for his usual forensic and thoughtful approach to all the issues. I also thank the hon. Member for Romsey and the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome, who is even now hurtling up on his way to Edinburgh. He will always remind me of courts martial, if nothing else, as a result of these deliberations.

To the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon), I can say that her championing of the cause of the people of Northern Ireland has been deeply impressive throughout. Perhaps I may beg her for one last time to accept that I share her aspiration

but that we have a different route, and I ask her again to understand my position on that.

I thank all my hon. Friends who have contributed. There has often been as much of a challenge from my side of the Committee as from elsewhere in it, and I applaud and welcome that. My hon. Friends all speak with a breadth of experience and understanding of these issues, and in many cases from years of campaigning on them. Their contact with those issues at the sharp end has been evident in everything that they have said.

I thank the Whips, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Heppell), for keeping us always on the ball and pretty well on time, and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Kali Mountford), who provides far more than bits of paper in support of the Minister. I am very grateful indeed to her.

Our proceedings have been constructive, thoughtful and an attempt to find real solutions. So often in the past, domestic violence and the victims of that crime have been hidden in our criminal justice system. In our scrutiny of the Bill we have helped to raise the issue's profile and, more importantly, to shape some solutions.

Finally, I say to all members of the Committee that we have listened carefully to the debate. I hope that the fruits of that listening will be evident on Report, but in the meantime, I thank everyone for their contribution.