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What I say about the figures that I have given is that I take them from the published figures and the facts as set out by the auditors. As far as I understand it, the figure referred to by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West emanates largely from the Labour party in Westminster. I would want to look more carefully at the figures before I confirmed or denied what the hon. Gentleman has said.
However, I can tell the hon. Member for Newham, North-West that, no matter what party it comes from, if there is evidence of impropriety or improper behaviour I would condemn it. I only wish that that was a more general view on both sides of the House.
We are increasing aggregate external finance at a lower rate than total standard spending because we believe that it is right that local taxpayers should fund a slightly higher proportion of the cost of local services. However, the level of council tax is a decision for each authority and will depend—