Cheltenham has issued a formal challenge to the cap that my right hon. and learned Friend proposed for it on 14 May. It has proposed an alternative cap, set at the level of its original budget.
I urge the Minister to look closely at the document that Cheltenham council produced. Will he explain to the House how charge capping increases local accountability when it takes away from elected councillors the ability to put into practice the programme on which they were elected and denies the people the high-quality, well-managed services for which they voted?
My colleagues and I will certainly think seriously about all the representations made to us by Cheltenham and other authorities before we come to our conclusions. The hon. Gentleman's wider point must be seen against the background of an overwhelming proportion of local authorities that brought in budgets at or below their ceilings. I congratulate them on that. The Government, unlike the Opposition, believe that we have a responsibility to protect charge payers from high-spending authorities and we continue to carry out that responsibility.