The bill did exist in another form and was introduced by Alex Neil in September 2001, to be exact. I echo the minister's words when I say that that bill was introduced for all the right reasons that he mentioned—transparency, openness and accountability. I hope sincerely that the Public Appointments and Public Bodies etc (Scotland) Bill will attain all that has been mentioned.
I thank Peter Peacock for the genuine interest he took in the many amendments that the SNP lodged. They were lodged not only by me, but by Alex Neil, Tricia Marwick and others. He listened carefully, although he did not always agree with us, and he introduced amendments at stage 2 and stage 3 that most of us in the SNP can live with.
I also thank the clerks—who worked so hard on the bill—and my colleagues on the Local Government Committee. Many groups were involved in consultation on the bill and we held many evidence sessions. Openness and transparency are what this Parliament is all about and they are necessary if we are to justify ourselves to the public.
My only regret is that amendment 5, which would have strengthened the bill, was not agreed to. It is unusual that the Conservative party supported amendment 5, because we do not agree with it on many issues. Although I am disappointed that amendment 5 was rejected, I suppose that we can live with that.
I welcome the bill and I accept what the minister and members of the Local Government Committee have said. I look forward to the implementation of the bill and to scrutinising it during the next session of the Parliament, when it has been enacted.