I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
In moving the Third Reading, I shall try not to take longer than the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) would have done in similar circumstances. We have had two long days of argument in which we have disagreed about many things, but I think we all agree that the Bill will bring welcome benefits to 8¼ million people. I thank the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) for his kind co-operation in helping us to get the Bill through Committee so quickly, and the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) for being such a worthy [column 613]successor to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. Neither of them will let any argument of Niall Macphersonmy right hon. Friend or myself get away unscathed, and that, of course, is as it should be. I also thank the hon. Member for Sowerby for not moving two Amendments to which I would have replied. I am sure he will realise that the answers were on my usual theme of “No” .
I shall not delay the House longer, but I promise that we shall do our best to speed the Bill on its way to bring benefits to 8¼ million people.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her very kind references to my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) and myself.
I wish to thank the Minister especially warmly for his courtesy and the painstaking treatment of our complaints and criticisms. He has maintained a good temper throughout, sometimes under the lash—sometimes, I have no doubt he feels, under unjust criticism. It has been a pleasure to go through the Bill under the direction of the right hon. Gentleman. We also acknowledge the assistance of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. The hon. Lady is much too attractive to become a school ma'am type. She must use the word “nonsense” with great restraint when referring to the interjections which I make.
We welcome the Bill for what it does. It does a great deal, let us acknowledge that. We wish it had done more, but that, I suppose, is one of the congenital desires of all Oppositions. We had views on the adequacy of these benefits in present circumstances which we have expressed in the course of our debates in Committee. We hope now that the work will go on and that everything will be done in time. We on this side of the House do not wish to be associated with any criticism of members of the staff of the Ministry in doing their job. We think they will work hard and do a lot of over-time. I am sure that they will see the job through with their customary efficiency and promptitude. We should acknowledge our debt to them.
We must speed the Bill on its passage to another place and hope that it will reach the Statute Book in the time [column 614]scheduled by the Minister for the completion of all this work. I am sure that all the beneficiaries will be looking forward eagerly to the day when they will get the extra money.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.