“At the end of each financial year after the commencement of this Act the Secretary of State shall make a statement to Parliament setting out—
(a) the total sum of funds made available to local authorities for the purposes of providing bus services and concessionary fares thereon in the financial year just ended, and
(b) the method by which those funds have been made available.”.—[Stephen Hammond.]
On a point of order, Mr. Bayley. May I say how much I have enjoyed serving under your chairmanship today? Clearly, that will be endorsed by other members of the Committee. I am delighted that we have been able to complete our deliberations well within the timetable. Like a well-run bus service, the deliberations have been punctual and the ride has been smooth and comfortable. There have been no deviations from the route, and no emergency stops or concessions—[ Interruption.] And we have clearly not run out of gas. Quite seriously, Mr. Bayley, I am grateful for the way in which you have handled what is an extremely important Committee and Bill.
I would also like to place on record my thanks to the Clerks, to those who prepare Hansard, to members of the Committee on both sides who have participated so well, and to the Government Whip, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw, without whom none of this would have been possible.
I also thank the Bill team, my private office, officials at the Department and the doorkeepers and police officers. I am sure that hon. Members would also want me to add a last-but-not-least thanks to the Chancellor, who announced the extension of the concession in the Budget. I look forward to Report and, more importantly, to the enactment of the Bill. It is a source of pleasure and great pride, as I am sure it is to hon. Members and colleagues, to be involved in Government legislation that will make a real difference to some 11 million people. It is a central plank of the Government’s work to tackle social exclusion and to improve access to bus services. I welcome the conclusion of the Committee and I thank everyone, including you, Mr. Bayley, for your assistance. I look forward to the next stage of the Bill’s passage and to the implementation of the measures.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Bayley. May I echo those sentiments? We have got through a tremendous amount of work very quickly owing to your smooth chairmanship and to the hard work that has gone on in preparation for the Committee. I thank the Minister for the arrangements she made to ensure that the Committee had adequate information prior to our consideration of the Bill. Like others, I look forward to the introduction of the measures next April.
I thank hon. Members for their kind remarks and for their co-operation in helping smooth the passage of our business. I also thank the various staff who report the Committee’s proceedings.