My hon. Friend, as a former chairman of the Association of District Councils, has great experience in such matters. It was not only on his side of the local government divide that people believed what he has said. I quote Sir Jeremy Beecham, the leader of the Newcastle city council:
The drawing up of specifications and tender documentation gave a fresh insight to members and officers alike in the consideration of what had often been taken for granted and, in terms of financing, dealt with on an incremental basis. Though it would be a mistake to push the argument too far, the purchaser-provider split and the development of Service Level Agreements between the provider of central services within authorities and client departments have caused a re-examination of performance, with generally beneficial results.
None of the Opposition Members I am looking at has run things for a long time. Those hon. Members on the Labour side who have run things know the truth of what I am saying.