Homelessness Bill

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Ms Buck: With that undertaking, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill to the House.

The Chairman: May I, on behalf of the Committee thank the Officers of the House, the Hansard reporters and the Clerks for their assistance. On this occasion I would like particularly to thank Mr. Nick Walker for his assistance. Mr. Walker, as hon. Members may or may not know, is effectively leaving the House of Commons for parliamentary duties in Europe. I am sure that all Members will wish him well in those ventures.

11.15 am

Ms Keeble: This has been a short, but extremely worthwhile, scrutiny of the Bill, Mr. Gale. We started, of course, with the Homes Bill, which was being drafted by counsel and polished in Committees in the last Parliament. We have benefited greatly from that earlier exhaustive examination and I am sure that the debate will continue as to which of the two Opposition parties was most responsible for some of the changes made.

Hon. Members have sought to perfect the Bill even further, to remove every possible flaw, and to cover all possible eventualities. It is traditional for the winding-up to be light hearted, but jokes are not my stock in trade, as hon. Members are probably relieved to learn. However, one of the features of the discussions of the Bill was that—perhaps uniquely—virtually every element has related to our experience as constituency Members. That has been reflected by all the contributions to the debate and by the expertise of Members who have worked in housing and the constant references to postbags and advice surgeries. I am sure that we all look forward to seeing the results of the legislation out in the real world.

I thank you, Mr. Gale, and Mr. Griffiths for your patience in guiding our deliberations. As a novice, I greatly appreciated that. I have also appreciated the contributions from all members of the Committee and I would also like to wish the Clerk well as he moves on from the House. I hope the future passage of the Bill is as trouble free and well managed as it has been in your hands, Mr. Gale, and I hope that you do not have a ``Groundhog Day'' when we all meet again in the Chamber.

Mr. Waterson: I associate myself, Mr. Gale, with the Minister's remarks. I would also like to believe that the legislation will reduce our mailbags and advice surgery lists, but I have a feeling that it will not.

Ms Keeble: It will make them worse.

Mr. Waterson: As the Minister says, it may actually make them worse. I would like to thank all those involved, including the members of the Committee and of the previous Committee—they left their indelible stamp on the Bill before it even got to this Committee. I would also like to join in thanking the Clerks, particularly in wishing Mr. Walker well, and the other officials, the Hansard reporters and the police—everybody involved.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Gale, and your two colleagues, for your out of the ordinary patience in having sat through these proceedings more than once. I hope that the sense of deja vu has not been too strong. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bedfordshire and the hon. Member for Aberavon for their maiden Committee contributions. I suspect that they will not serve on many Standing Committees that will be as short and pithy as this one.

We have made the Bill better and more effective over the course of two Committee stages. Finally, Mr. Gale, I hope that it has not seemed too much like ``Groundhog Day'' to you and your two colleagues. We thank you for your deliberations and your help in assisting us to a speedy conclusion.

Mr. Don Foster: I would like to associate myself, Mr. Gale, with the thanks that have been offered by both the Minister and the hon. Member for Eastbourne. The hon. Gentleman's list was so long that I thought for moment that he was going to add, ``and you, Mr. Returning Officer,'' at the end of it, but he did not.

I have just one hope—that anyone who reads the record of our deliberations will do so in conjunction with our earlier deliberations on part II of the Homes Bill. It will be important for people reading our deliberations to be aware that significant progress was made at various stages on the original legislation proposed by the Government. Were readers not aware of that, they might gain the impression that we had two Ministers acting like firm stone walls, resisting any amendment. I was delighted that we ended on a happy note: although the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North was not agreed to, its principle and spirit were accepted by the Government.

Our deliberations, today and previously, have enabled significant progress to be made on an important issue. That will be of enormous benefit to many people in the country. The cause of providing support for homeless people has been extremely well served by all members of the Committee. That has only been possible because we have had serious deliberations in a relatively short time. Thank you, Mr. Gale, for the way in which you chaired the Committee, which enabled those deliberations to take place.

The Chairman: Thank you. I am grateful to all hon. Members for conducting the proceedings with their usual good humour and courtesy.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

        Committee rose at twenty minutes past Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Buck, Ms
Clifton-Brown, Mr.
Foster, Mr. Don
Francis, Dr.
Iddon, Dr.
Keeble, Ms
Kidney, Mr.
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr.
Moran, Margaret
Selous, Mr.
Waterson, Mr.
Whitehead, Dr.
Williams, Hywel
Woolas, Mr.

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