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Local Government Finance Bill (Allocation of Time)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 26th January 1987.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 5:45 pm, 26th January 1987

The major difference is that the Opposition have not understood the Bill. The hon. Member for Copeland certainly has not understood the Bill. To coin a phrase, the hon. Gentleman has been making bricks without straw. He invented the first scare that I was putting myself above the law in some way, and the other scare that the Bill contained draconian, centralising powers, as the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft) called them.

It is odd that the hon. Member for Copeland sought to make the point on a point of order on Wednesday afternoon when it was not remotely a point of order and when he knew that the debate of substance would not be reached until late that night. He knew that I could not reply on the point of order; he knew that he was talking rubbish, and he hoped that it would be picked up by the press because he made it at 3.30 pm when he hoped that the press would be there. I thought that was a shabby trick. The hon. Gentleman knows what a point of order is, and he knew that what he was saying was not a point of order. The hon. Gentleman did not bother to raise the matter in the clause 4 stand part debate; he left it to the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who accepted the Government's case on that matter entirely, and when he received my letter today he realised how wrong he was.