Armed Forces Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 31st March 2021.
On a point of order, Mr Sunderland. I place on the record my thanks to you for the excellent way in which you have chaired the Committee over the last few weeks. I also thank the Clerks for their guidance and expertise, which has been much needed at times, and their colleagues in the House who have made virtual line-by-line scrutiny happen successfully for the very first time. As I have said, we are the pioneers, and I hope that we will have made the virtual Committee experience easier for those who may come after us.
I thank the Minister for Defence People and Veterans for giving evidence to the Committee and putting the Government’s position on the record throughout. I also thank my Front-Bench colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth South, for his leadership on the Bill, and my hon. Friends the Members for Gower and for Liverpool, Walton for their support and work on the Committee. I especially thank my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham for his unrivalled expertise, which has helped us to scrutinise the Bill properly.
I thank Government Members, who have been constructive throughout and made valuable contributions. I also thank Scottish National party Members for their excellent amendments and contributions throughout. I thank the staff in all of our offices, who have ensured that we have been fully briefed and prepared for the Bill, as well as the representatives of all the sector bodies, charities and lobby groups for their help in giving written and oral evidence as well as comprehensive briefings throughout.
We have somewhat raced through the Committee stage of the Bill. None the less, it has been very productive. I am sure we have laid the groundwork for our colleagues in the other place to pick up the Bill and improve it further. I hope that in later iterations the Government take on board the suggested amendments, some of which were excellent and would improve the Bill. I look forward to continuing our deliberations in the remaining stages in due course.
Thank you very much indeed for those kind words. I echo all of them. If I may, I will add my own personal thanks to the Clerks, who have been fantastic in supporting me, the tech team and all Members. Thank you for making the Committee so successful.
That concludes our formal consideration of the Armed Forces Bill. The formal report to the House will not happen until the Committee has considered its special report, which will be done in private.