Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 19th December 2017.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 2:52 pm, 19th December 2017

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.