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Points of Order

Volume 626: debated on Monday 26 June 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Queen’s Speech last week failed to include the much expected local government finance Bill, the omission of which has called into question the switch to local retention of business rates replacing the revenue support grant, causing financial uncertainty and concern to many local councils. Has the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government given any indication to you of whether he intends to come to the House and give an oral statement, so that hon. and right hon. Members may question Ministers on this important issue? If not, Mr Speaker, is this a matter on which you will look favourably for an urgent question?

The hon. Gentleman has chanced his arm. In respect of the first part of his inquiry, my response is a conclusive no. The Secretary of State has not given me any indication of an intention to make a statement on that subject. He could do so now, but it is not compulsory. He can preserve a Buddha-like silence if he prefers, but if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to spring to his feet, either to offer his reassurance or otherwise, he can.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a debate on the Queen’s Speech tomorrow about local services, so perhaps the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) would like to bring the matter up then.

We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that. So far as the matter of urgent questions is concerned, if memory serves me correctly, during my tenure to date I have chosen no fewer than 369. I am therefore certainly not averse to selecting urgent questions and there is plenty of scope for them, but the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) is a seasoned enough contributor to our proceedings to know that we are not supposed to mention them on the Floor of the House—or at least a Member thinking of submitting such is not supposed to—and I am certainly not going to pre-announce them. I think there is a lot to be said for the worldly wisdom of the late Lord Whitelaw, who famously observed, “On the whole, I prefer to cross bridges only when I come to them.”

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As a new Member, I wonder whether the Chair can advise on the most effective way of raising the worrying news from my constituency today that the Royal Bank of Scotland has announced more than 400 job losses, to ascertain the potentially serious economic implications and whether this is in any way connected to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

The hon. Lady is undoubtedly a new Member, but she is clearly not a novice in finding very public opportunities to air her concerns on behalf of her constituents. The short answer is that she has of course already aired that concern through the device—or ruse in this case—of a perhaps slightly bogus point of order. However, my advice to her is that she should seek to question Ministers either orally at the appropriate time—there are many such opportunities, on which her colleagues can advise her—or through written questions. If, however, she wishes to dilate on the matter more fully and to hear a Minister do so in response, the mechanism available to her is an Adjournment debate. She should wend her way to the Table Office, where she will find highly qualified and very conscientious staff, who are only too happy to advise her. I just have a sense that we are going to hear further from the hon. Lady on this matter, and probably before very long.