Travel Concessions (Eligibility) Bill [Lords]

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Mr. Clifton-Brown: This is the last group of new clauses and amendments. We have made reasonable progress today. In response to the Minister's closing remark, it is not a matter of extending concessions either to pensioners or to young people; we are asking for both. The Bill, which I hope is about to be ratified in Committee, provides concessions for men aged between 60 and 64. We are asking the Government to consider our new clauses 6 and 9, which would require consultation on whether the Government should introduce a concessionary scheme for students aged 18 or under in full-time education.

The hon. Member for Bath is a friend and a reasonable Member of Parliament, but he has been in a nit-picking mood today. If he did not like our amendments on the subject, he should have tabled his own amendments. I notice that only one of his amendments to this narrow Bill has been selected. We have had great difficulty in getting our amendments selected, but we managed 10. If the hon. Gentleman will settle for one tenth of the number of Members of Parliament in our party, I shall give way to him.

Mr. Don Foster: In that case, I shall not intervene. I am not prepared to accept the deal.

The Chairman: Order. If hon. Members wish to say anything, they must do so standing up, otherwise they must keep quiet.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: I am glad that I have managed to close down the hon. Gentleman. That is one of my biggest achievements in the Committee. He is looking very sheepish, but I do not know what is the matter with him. He has only one postcard for his wife this Session, so she will be feeling a little lonely. He will have to work harder in the next Standing Committee to ensure that he sends a few more, or she will feel unloved.

Chris Grayling: Notwithstanding my hon. Friend's comments about the hon. Member for Bath, does he agree that the hon. Gentleman deserves credit for being the first member of his party whom I have heard admitting the limits of his mystical 1p on income tax.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: The hon. Member for Bath is a decent person and I am sure that he always tries to portray his party's policies with the utmost clarity. I shall return to the new clause before you call me to order, Miss Widdecombe.

We must consider an agenda for young people. I say that with utmost seriousness. We saw at the last election one of the lowest turnouts since the war. We know from the figures that part of the reason for that low turnout was that young people of all political persuasions are simply turned off politics. If we could demonstrate in the House one or two measures such as the new clause to show that we are thinking carefully and hard about their needs and to improve the quality of their lives, we would be doing them and ourselves a great service. We must be very careful in a democracy when a whole section of our society is not participating in our democratic processes.

The Minister gave a costing of £180 million and my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight castigated me for wanting to start the scheme in London. It would be as well to get it up and running in London, but, as he said, then very quickly to see where else in the United Kingdom it would be appropriate to roll it out.

I am sorry that the Minister has not felt it wise to accept our new clauses. I hope that she will not forget about the matter. My hon. Friends and I will not forget about it and if we do not hear of some Government progress with those ideas, we shall find opportunities to keep prompting them.

The hour is fairly late and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

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

Mr. Clifton-Brown: It would be remiss of me, on behalf of my hon. Friends in the official Opposition, if I did not thank you, Miss Widdecombe, for chairing this Committee firmly, but fairly and clearly. I also thank your co-Chairman, Mr. Stevenson, who was helpful with his rulings this morning on our points of order. I would also like to thank the Hansard writers, those in the Serjeant at Arms' Department and the police, who are often forgotten, for their hard work and the long hours that they spend in this place. I also thank the Ministers for the courteous—although it was not sympathetic—way in which they dealt with our requests, and their officials.

Mr. Spellar: Further to that point of order, Miss Widdecombe. In the time available, I associate myself with the comments of the Opposition spokesman.

Mr. Don Foster: Further to the point of order, Miss Widdecombe. Being, as the hon. Member for Cotswold said, a decent Member of Parliament, I too would like to be associated with his comments.

The Chairman: I am grateful to the Committee for their kind comments. I echo their thanks to the police, the Hansard writers and others.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

        Committee rose at Seven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Widdecombe, Miss Ann (Chairman)
Brake, Tom
Clifton-Brown, Mr.
Foster, Mr. Don
Grayling, Chris
Keeble, Ms
Pope, Mr.
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Spellar, Mr.
Stewart, Mr. David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Watts, Mr.
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Woolas, Mr.

 
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Prepared 20 November 2001