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Points of Order

Volume 633: debated on Tuesday 19 December 2017

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder whether you can help the House. We have just had a statement on the police grant assessment and the figures for individual forces are now available. On the local government financial settlement, however, I have just been to the Vote Office and there are no figures for individual authorities. No doubt Members will be contacted and asked about these matters. In the past, the figures have always been available at the same time as the settlement. Mr Speaker, could you ask those on the Treasury Bench whether there is any way they can speed this up so that we can at least get them before Christmas? I do not want to have a situation where all of us are being asked about this but we have no idea what it means for our individual authorities.

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point of order and for giving the Chair advance notice of his intention to raise it. As I recall it, in respect of the local government finance settlement and the statement thereon, the Secretary of State did not refer to any laid documents. I appreciate that hon. Members may customarily expect documents on these matters—that has tended to be the case—but this is a matter for decision by Ministers. I am sure the concerns, expressed by the hon. Gentleman in his point of order and by other Members in the course of the exchanges, will have been heard on the Treasury Bench.

I would just add, if I may, one point in underlining the significance of the hon. Gentleman’s point. It would, in respect of local government finance in particular, be helpful to Members in their attempted interrogation if the documents were available before the start of the statement. The reason why I say that “in particular” in respect of these matters is that it was long ago observed by many people to me when I started in my political activity that only three people in history were ever thought to have understood local government finance. In that sense, it was considered to be analogous to the situation appertaining to the Schleswig-Holstein question, about which it was also said that only three people had ever understood: one had since died, the second had gone mad and the third had forgotten the answer to the question. It is therefore useful to have more material rather than less in relation to these matters.

I think the hon. Gentleman wants the Second Deputy Chairman to respond to his point of order.

I am grateful, Mr Speaker. Once again, Liverpool Prison in Walton in my constituency is subject to media reports following its most recent inspection in September this year. Perhaps most damning of all, the report states:

“We saw clear evidence that local prison managers had sought help from regional and national management to improve conditions they knew to be unacceptable…but had met with little response.”

This morning, the Justice Secretary promised an action plan would be forthcoming in the new year. That is too little, too late. We need answers to how HMP Liverpool was allowed to sink into such disrepair and squalor in the first place. This cannot be brushed under the carpet. This is a failure of the state of the highest magnitude. The Government and Ministers must be accountable to this House, so I ask for your guidance, Mr Speaker, on how I can get answers to what happened at HMP Liverpool.

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The short answer is that he would certainly have an opportunity at business questions on Thursday to raise this matter with the Leader of the House if he is so inclined. There are various other means by which matters can be raised and the hon. Gentleman will be familiar with the arsenal of weapons available to a Back-Bench Member. I completely understand his concern. If he is asking me, “Is there at least one method of raising it before we rise for the Christmas recess?” the answer is yes and there may prove to be more.

Bills Presented

Pension Benefits (Ill Health) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

John Mann presented a Bill to require pension providers to make lump sum payments and other pension benefits available to people with ill health, including people with a terminal diagnosis, prior to such people reaching minimum pension age; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 27 April 2018, and to be printed (Bill 143).

Access to Radiotherapy Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Tim Farron, supported by Mr Jim Cunningham, Norman Lamb, Stephen McPartland, Layla Moran, Grahame Morris and Tom Brake, presented a Bill to make provision to improve access to radiotherapy treatment in England; to define access in terms of the time that patients are required to travel to places providing treatment; to specify 45 minutes as the maximum time patients are to travel; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 May 2018, and to be printed (Bill 144).