Before I call the next amendment, may I give my personal congratulations to the right hon. Lady? I think that she would like to say a few words.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher
I am most grateful to you, Mr. Crawshaw. I think that, due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been called to higher things and, therefore, may not be with the Committee very much longer. [column 1245]
May I, therefore, say how much I have enjoyed sitting under your chairmanship, Mr. Crawshaw. I think that the degree of competence, extent of knowledge, and the skill in argument on this side of the Committee must have been most disturbing to those who sit on the other side, as well as very enjoyable to everyone concerned. I would, naturally, have liked to see the Committee stage through, as well as the Report Stage, but the timing of other events was not of my choosing.
I note that the Committee makes very slow progress without me, but, as the Joel BarnettChief Secretary knows, women are always very economical in their speeches, which is not always the case when we have ministerial replies. I think that the Chief Secretary will make progress if he is prepared to give rather more concessions, particularly on Clause 36, Clause 40, Schedule 5, Schedule 4, and one or two other things besides. I think then that the Bill might go through within the timetable.
I shall look forward very much, in a slightly different capacity, to listening to the arguments on Report. But I hope that the tax will receive this greater number of concessions, because to us it is still a very disturbing tax, and we are still worried about its structure.
Thank you very much, Mr. Crawshaw, for giving me this opportunity to speak. I hope that in due course my vote will be replaced by another vote, as I realise that is even more important than the person who holds the vote.