Local Government Finance Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 am on 2 February 2017.

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[Mike Gapes in the Chair]

We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. Would everyone present ensure that all electronic devices are turned off or switched to silent? As a general rule, my fellow Chair and I do not intend to call starred amendments. The required notice period in Public Bill Committees is three working days. The selection list for today’s sitting is available in the room and on the website. It shows how the selected amendments have been grouped together for debate. Amendments grouped together are generally on the same or similar issues.

A Member who has put their name to the lead amendment in a group is called first, and other Members are then free to catch my eye to speak on all or any of the amendments within that group. A Member may speak more than once in a single debate. At the end of a debate on a group of amendments, I shall call the Member who moved the lead amendment again. Before they sit down, they will need to indicate if they wish to withdraw the amendment or seek a decision. If any Member wishes to press any other amendment or new clause in a group to a vote, they will need to let me know. I shall work on the assumption that the Minister wishes the Committee to reach a decision on all Government amendments tabled.

Please note that decisions on amendments take place not in the order in which they are debated but the order in which they appear on the amendment paper. Decisions on new clauses are made after we finish with the existing text—that is, after considering clause 42. I shall use my discretion to decide whether to allow a separate stand part debate on individual clauses and schedules following debate on the relevant amendments. I hope that explanation is helpful.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

On a point of order, Mr Gapes. You will probably be aware that the Minister’s Department issued in July last year a consultation document that is pertinent to the Bill. The Minister indicated in his witness appearance that he hoped soon to see the publication of those responses, which would be germane to the scrutiny of the Bill. I wonder whether you have had any indication from the Minister or whether the Minister might be suitably prompted to respond to my point of order to indicate when that might happen.

I have had no indication. Does the Minister wish to reply?

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Further to that point of order, Mr Gapes. I would like to reassure the Committee that the responses to the consultation will be published shortly. I stand by the assurance I gave the hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West during the evidence session when I was a witness.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

I am grateful for the Minister’s intervention. It would also be helpful to see soon details of how the pilot on 100% business rates retention schemes will work. That is germane to the passage of the Bill. I would also like an answer to a written question I have asked about an impact assessment setting out the economic effects of the scheme, which, again, is germane to the scrutiny of the Bill.

The Minister has heard that point of order. I do not think we need to have a discussion on it now, but hopefully things will appear shortly.

Clause 1