Given that we have concluded our deliberations, may I take the opportunity to thank you, Mr. Weir, and Miss Begg most warmly—I am pleased to hear that other Committee members agree—for your excellent stewardship of our proceedings.
I wish to thank the Committee for the constructive and helpful way in which—
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. As the most senior Privy Councillor present, with years of experience in these matters, and because of the non-partisan nature of the proceedings, I trust that when the Bill gets Royal Assent, the Minister will hold a proper little drinks party to thank his officials, and that he will feel it important, on this occasion, to invite all members of the Committee, who have behaved impeccably—including the officials, yourself, Mr. Weir, and Miss Begg—to Nobel house to continue our bipartisan relationship, and so that the Minister is not accused of favouritism.
I think that I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that invitation to a party that I am now going to host. I am sure that it is something that we can consider, because it is proper that everybody should be thanked, particularly my officials. Much praise was given to them on Second Reading on account of the clarity of the explanatory notes. I hope that they have also made my notes clear—their in-flight refuelling has been prompt and effective. I should also like to thank the Whip for his work in steering us almost exactly to time.
Mr. Weir, I am not going to try to emulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border, not least because I am not as generous as he is with other people’s money—or with my own. However, I entirely endorse the remarks that the Minister has made, and add my thanks to him and his officials for the way in which they have conducted themselves not only in Committee but prior to the Bill’s coming to Committee. They have been more than open to discussions about how we might handle matters. I am grateful, particularly, for the way in which the Minister has responded—in most cases—to amendments that we have proposed and to the issues that have arisen from them. He promised to go away and consider a number of matters, but he agreed to consult openly on three: possible alterations to the register; the name of the statutory bodies; and developments that are already under way. I look forward to those discussions.
I understand that we will not debate this Bill on Report next week or the week after, so we have a reasonable amount of time. However, I am sure that the Minister will want to ensure that before we reach that stage we continue to deal with the issues, as my right hon. Friend said, in a non-partisan way so as to get it as right as possible, because we will not be the ones—nor, probably, will our immediate successors—who are asked to address the matter again. I am particularly grateful to the Minister for the attitude that he has taken, and to you, Mr. Weir, and to Miss Begg.
I, too, would like to thank you,Mr. Weir, and Miss Begg, for your wonderful chairmanship, which has contributed to the success of our consideration of the Bill. I, too, welcome the Minister’s positive approach to it, and he can be assured of our equally positive contribution. A number of issues that have been highlighted during our considerations are outstanding, and the Bill would be improved if they were addressed. I look forward to working with the Minister and his team in trying to ensure that we come to the best possible conclusion on those matters.
I echo everything that has been said,Mr. Weir. I have done enough bowing and scraping for one day.