I realise that any self-respecting Opposition spokesman would by convention claim on reaching Third Reading that at least some of his party’s concerns remained unresolved. I suppose that that is the case, although Her Majesty’s Opposition cannot really claim that this Bill is an improvement on the one initially published in May.
The fact is that our collective deliberations have made not one jot of difference to the wording of the Bill before us today. In fairness, that might owe more to the fact that this politically uncontentious piece of legislation contains the princely sum of two clauses. Perhaps it might be down to my effectiveness or that of my parliamentary colleagues?at least that is the story that I am sticking to.
In the four weeks since Second Reading, however, not only have we had a constructive Committee stage but we have lived through some tumultuous times nationally. The terrorist atrocities in London and the G8 conference in Scotland followed hot on the heels of the more uplifting, triumphant announcement that our capital city will host the 2012 Olympic games, and the UK’s hosting of the series of Live 8 concerts. All of that has been packed into the past few weeks, during our consideration of this Bill.
We have also learned of eventful times for the Economic Secretary, who sped back to his native north-west from the Second Reading debate to attend his sister’s wedding celebration. I know that it is common for young men to be fearful of their fathers-in-law, but I suspect that the newest arrival to the Lewis clan will have more cause for trepidation in his relationship with his new brother-in-law. The Economic Secretary also revealed in Committee his split allegiances: red in his political affiliation, and blue?well, sky blue at least?in footballing terms. I sincerely hope that, if only to ensure harmony around the dining table in the Lewis household, the Economic Secretary’s new brother-in-law is not divergently schizophrenic in his own football and political allegiances. I am sure that if he were a Tory that would be bad enough, but for him to be a Manchester United supporter as well would be a step too far.