Written evidence

Legal Services Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 pm on 26th June 2007.

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Ordered, That certain written evidence already reported to the House be appended to the proceedings of the Committee.—[Bridget Prentice.]

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice

On a point of order, Sir Nicholas. It is a pleasure to make the final statement in Committee. I shall shortly be thanking the huge variety of people who have so greatly contributed in bringing the Bill to Committee and in improving it in the course of the Committee debates.

First, however, let me state my belief that, when the Bill receives Royal Assent—as I am sure that it will—it will be among the most significant statutes produced by any Government in improving legislation for consumers. I do not say that lightly—I am convinced that it is the case—and I am particularly pleased and proud to have been involved in making it happen. No matter what happens later this week, I know that through the passage of the Bill I have at least played a part in making consumers’ lives a great deal better.

I thank the Bill team, which, not surprisingly—given that the Bill has 215 clauses and 24 schedules—is quite large. They have been magnificent in providing advice and amendments, and in giving advice and support to the Opposition, when they have asked for it, in clarifying issues. I am grateful to Nigel Reeder and his team for the work that they have done. I am also grateful to the Clerks to the Committee, who have been extremely helpful, always courteous and always ready to offer excellent advice. The new system of explanatory  memorandums at the end of amendments has been a marvellous improvement, for which we have been the pilot, and I hope that it will be adopted elsewhere.

I thank colleagues on both sides of the House for their courteous, humorous and always gracious conduct in the debate. I am particularly grateful for the contributions of my hon. Friends. I feel as if I now know virtually everybody who lives in Bassetlaw, and I certainly think that people in North Durham visit their solicitors far too often. Nevertheless, those contributions were important and focused us on some critical issues. I am grateful also to the Opposition for the way in which they have conducted themselves.

I thank my Parliamentary Private Secretary, and those who have at intervals acted as PPS, for making sure that I have all the relevant information, and my hon. Friend the Whip for glaring at us when we went on too long. I thank all the organisations that have been involved on both sides—the consumer side and the legal profession. Particular thanks also go to you, Sir Nicholas, and to your colleague, Frank Cook, for your wonderful supervision of our proceedings and for the charming way in which you have kept us in line. That has ensured that the Bill is better than when we began.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Shadow Minister (Justice)

Further to that point of order, Sir Nicholas. There is not time to go into detail but, on behalf of the official Opposition, I endorse everything that the Minister has said.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Attorney General, Party Chair, Liberal Democrats

Likewise, I offer my thanks to you, Sir Nicholas, to Mr. Cook and to the Clerks who have done a sterling job. Above all, I pay tribute to the Minister who has single-handedly led for the Government in Committee and who deserves our thanks. The Committee has been happy and successful.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield 10:00 pm, 26th June 2007

I congratulate the whole Committee. From my point of view, it has been a very agreeable and constructive Committee. I congratulate the Front-Bench spokesmen, and I particularly congratulate the Minister on handling a Bill entirely on her own, although no doubt with good back-up from the civil service. I thank my Clerk, the Doorkeepers, the police and the Hansard writers. If every Committee ran as smoothly, this place would perhaps run more smoothly as a whole. Thank you all for your complimentary remarks, and I shall pass on your thanks to Mr. Cook.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at one minute past Ten o’clock.