§ Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The House will know that last Wednesday the Secretary of State for the Environment laid before the House the Rate Limitation (Prescribed Maximum) (Rates) Order, which seeks to prescribe the rate limits for 14 authorities. The order is due to be discussed by the Scrutiny Committee this afternoon and to be debated by the House tomorrow afternoon. We have just learnt—I appreciate the Secretary of State's courtesy in telling us this at the earliest possible moment—that the order is to be withdrawn, and a different order substituted for it. For the London borough of Haringey that will have the effect of replacing a rate limit which would have reduced the rate by 3 per cent. Or 7p, with an increase of 17 per cent. or 39p. Obviously that affects the borough of Haringey, but it also affects all other authorities. In a letter dated 30 January the Secretary of State told my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham):I have of course acted with consistency between authorities.You will know that we have been deeply concerned that the Secretary of State has not produced the assumptions on which he claims to have acted consistently. Is it in order for the House to be expected to debate what amounts to an entirely fresh order at only 24 hours notice? Does the Leader of the House believe that that is in order? Should not the business be moved so that the House has a proper opportunity to digest the order before it debates it?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That is not a matter for me, but something which would normally be dealt with through the usual channels.
§ The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Biffen)
I am happy to confirm that we wish to look at that through the usual channels.