In the interest of fairness, and in the same spirit displayed earlier by the Minister, I thought it right and proper that I should rise to catch your eye, Mr. Atkinson. The Minister was criticised by the Opposition for the loose drafting of clause 4, and he said very fairly that he would be willing to consider it on Report. In the interest of balance, I therefore rise to praise him for the drafting of clause 6, which for once shows positive action. It gives a firm and definite implementation date, not one to be determined on some unspecified day. The Act will come into force two months from the day on which the Bill is passed. Well done, I say.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for drawing my attention to that very worrying part of the Bill. [Laughter.] That was the Government’s intention, of course, and we do not intend to amend it.
I hope that I have my timing right, Mr. Atkinson. During debate on the Crossrail Bill, I tried three times unsuccessfully to offer a vote of thanks to you as the Chair. It has been a short but delightful experience to serve under your chairmanship. The Bill may go down in history as having undergone one of the shortest periods of Committee scrutiny. It is probably equivalent in length to some delegated legislation Committees on which I have served. That is certainly due at least in part to you, Mr. Atkinson.
I also thank your Clerk, of whom I had experience when I was a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology. He is a fine chap, and I am sure that he has done an excellent job for you. I also thank the Hansard reporters, the Doorkeepers, the police officers, my own officials, who have done an outstanding job, and my private secretary, Sandra St. Louis. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Wimbledon and the hon. Member for Richmond Park for adopting a very healthy bipartisan and constructive approach. Finally, as I forgot to do so last week, I must thank members of my own party on the Committee. I am grateful to them all for their sterling and reliable support during this very brief sitting.
I echo all the thanks that the Minister has expressed. It has been a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in this short Public Bill Committee, Mr. Atkinson. It has been shortened by the Minister’s help to the Opposition in the form of a briefing, and by his answers to a number of our questions, and we are grateful for that. I echo the Minister’s thanks to the Clerk, the Hansard reporters, my researcher, who helped me tremendously with the construction of our amendments, and indeed to my hon. Friends for their support.
I, too, echo all the various thanks that have been expressed. My first experience of an evidence-taking session was quite useful in abbreviating our discussions in the clause-by-clause consideration stage of the Bill. I thank everybody for allowing us to go early to lunch.
I thank Committee members for their co-operation in something that was quite new to us today. The reason why we had to move from the Boothroyd Room to here was the simple one that, if there are officials or witnesses to interrogate, they need a microphone and a place to sit. At the moment, only one Public Bill Committee Room has been kitted out in that way, and that Room had been bagged by another Bill this morning. Despite that disturbance, we have had a very easy and well-mannered Committee, and I thank everyone for that.