I accept that. That is what I have been appealing for from the Secretary of State for the past two years. There must be flexibility on both sides. If talks take place after the reports have been put on the statute book, he must not assume that agreement will be inevitable. There is still a danger that we shall go over the precipice and that we shall be faced with the breakdown of essential local services.
The Secretary of State will not get from the talks anything which will be satisfactory and which will prevent a breakdown taking place if he enters those talks with the idea that he can obtain major redundancies in the Lothian region, that he can get the region to cut back on essential services and that he can impose on it, by coercion and for political reasons, a rate repayment for the current year. If he enters the talks with those attitudes, I do not believe that they will lead to a satisfactory conclusion. If he goes to the talks with a genuinely flexible approach and with a willingness to compromise, I hope that we might avert even now the worst of the crisis and the possible breakdown of essential services. So much will depend on what happens when the talks take place.