Local Government Finance Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 am on 9th February 2017.

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[Sir David Amess in the Chair]

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 11:30 am, 9th February 2017

On a point of order, Sir David. On Tuesday afternoon, when I asked the Minister whether he had been privy to conversations in the Department or across Whitehall more generally about Surrey County Council’s proposed referendum on a 15% council tax increase, and what the Government might have said to the leader of the county council, he said:

“I think that the hon. Gentleman is presupposing the discussions that happened and the outcome of the situation.”––[Official Report, Local Government Finance Public Bill Committee, 7 February 2017; c. 208-09.]

In the light of the sweetheart deal agreed with Surrey County Council, I wonder whether the Minister would like to take the opportunity to correct the record.

I have listened very carefully to the point of order. No doubt the Minister and the Government Whip have, too, but I sense that they are not very keen to comment on it. It is there for the record.

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

Further to that point of order, Sir David. The hon. Member for Harrow West knows that a sweetheart deal has not been done with Surrey. I refer him to today’s written ministerial statement, and indeed to the statement made by Surrey County Council.

The Minister took me by surprise: he did want to respond. I urge hon. Members to turn now to—

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

On a different point of order, Sir David. You may not be aware that there has been some discussion in Committee about the fact that the Government have not yet published their summary, let alone the full details, of the 400-plus responses to their consultation document, which is pertinent to consideration of the Bill. Have you had any indication that the Minister might finally have got around to releasing the consultation responses, so as to better inform our scrutiny of the Bill?

Neither I nor the Clerk has had notification. Does the Minister wish to share the position with the Committee?

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

Further to that point of order, Sir David. It has almost become a custom for the hon. Member for Harrow West to ask that question in our sittings. I reassure him, as I have done a number of times, that we intend to publish the responses to the initial consultation. We are also looking to publish a further consultation, and we expect it to be released next week.

I am very grateful to the Minister; that is helpful.

Clause 6