Finance Bill

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Dawn Primarolo: On a point of order, Dr. Clark. As we appear to be moving swiftly to the 7 o'clock guillotine, I thought that it would be appropriate to put on record the Committee's thanks to you and to your Deputy Chairmen, Mr. O'Hara and Mr. Hood, for steering us expertly through the Committee. I thank the Clerks, the police, the attendants, and the Hansard staff. I also thank the civil servants of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise for their assistance encouragement, patience, forbearance and tolerance. They sat silently through the proceedings without wishing to enter into the discussion, which demonstrated their great reserve.

I also thank the Opposition team led by the hon. Member for West Dorset, especially as we have progressed through the Finance Bill in unusual circumstances. I cannot promise that we will proceed through it as swiftly in future years, but if he is prepared to assist us from the Opposition Benches next year, we will do our best to make similar progress.

All Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton and his team, have participated in the proceedings with patience and good humour. Some of them have displayed a little irritation with the Government on occasions, but Opposition Members are allowed to do that. The hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs is nodding. I do not understand why. He fell asleep in the Committee this afternoon and had to be woken by his hon. Friends, so he should be careful. However, he is about due for his nicotine fix, and a Committee would not be a Committee if he was not told that he should give up smoking, as it is bad for his health.

I also thank my hon. Friends. They are an excellent collection of politicians, and many of them are Members of Parliament of great experience. They have patiently assisted the progress of the Bill, and are now raring to leave the Committee to return to more pressing considerations, following the Prime Minister's announcement earlier today—except for my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), who is desperate for a beer, and can now escape to the Terrace to drink it.

Finally, Dr. Clark, I again thank you for your support during the proceedings.

Mr. Letwin: Further to that point of order, Dr. Clark. I heartily reciprocate the Paymaster General's generous sentiments, and I join in her eloquent thanks to all the third parties, and to my hon. Friends, who have notably participated in the Committee, as they did, at greater length, in last year's proceedings. We look forward to a similar level of scrutiny and constructive participation from the Labour Opposition, following the events to which we are now drawn.

I also join the Paymaster General in thanking the Chairmen. However, I wish to conclude with a special tribute to you, Dr. Clark, as these are probably the last proceedings of the House with which you will be involved. I note that you have been a Member of Parliament for 18 years, and many of us hope to emulate that long service. Throughout that time, you have been an adornment to the House, and to the Committee. Indeed, there were even moments when one suspected that you understood what was happening in the Committee, when some of the rest of us doubted whether we did.

It has been a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. We shall be the poorer at the next Finance Bill, as it will be the first one for a long while not to benefit from your chairmanship.

As on previous occasions, the ministerial team have done great duty by answering the points that have been raised, and by keeping us amused at times when our attention might otherwise have flagged.

Mr. Burnett: I thank the Chairmen, for their marvellous chairmanship, but, in particular, I thank you, Dr. Clark. You have the good taste of knowing my part of the world very well, as you visit the west country. I also thank your staff, the Hansard staff, the officials from the Inland Revenue, the attendants, and so forth. It has been an enjoyable Finance Bill, and my party colleagues and I endorse the earlier comments.

The Chairman: I thank hon. Members for their generous comments about me and my fellow Chairmen.

I offer personal thanks to Mr. Jimmy Hood for standing in for me when I was moving house last week. I, too, was taken by surprise at the fact that we did not have an early general election, and my house was sold, so I had nowhere to live.

Many hon. Members are part of the old team that met during the proceedings on last year's Finance Bill. The new team has also been good, and I thank all hon. Members for their co-operation. I also thank the Clerk for the assistance that he has given to me and the whole Committee

As events have proceeded at such great pace today and during recent weeks, I am afraid that I have not had the opportunity to arrange a room where Committee members can have a drink together to celebrate the end of consideration of the Bill. However, tomorrow will be a nice summer day, and I should be happy for people to join me on the Terrace for a glass of Pimms at lunchtime.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

        Committee rose at Seven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
O'Hara, Mr. Edward

Clark, Dr. Michael

Allen, Mr.

Bailey, Mr.

Banks, Mr.

Barnes, Mr.

Bennett, Mr.

Bruce, Mr. Malcolm

Burnett, Mr.

Campbell, Mr. Ronnie

Davey, Mr. Edward

Dobbin, Mr.

Donohoe, Mr.

Flight, Mr.

Healey, Mr.

Hendrick, Mr.

Jack, Mr.

Johnson, Miss Melanie

Kilfoyle, Mr.

Lammy, Mr.

Letwin, Mr.

Luff, Mr.

Michael, Mr.

Primarolo, Dawn

Roy, Mr.

St. Aubyn, Mr.

Timms, Mr.

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Prepared 8 May 2001