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That doctrine is rather more dangerous in practice than it sounds in theory. The hon. Gentleman appears to be saying that local levels of taxation and local authority expenditure should be set entirely unilaterally by the authorities without the Government taking any view of what is a proper amount in the interests of the economy as a whole. That is a doctrine which even the Labour party would not wish to sustain if it ever came into office.
All Governments must take a view on the total volume of public expenditure. Local authorities contribute a quarter to that, and it is entirely proper that we should determine what we believe to be a sensible level for local authority expenditure while providing the means for authorities to argue why, in particular circumstances, they may need more or that their amount is incorrect. That is a process that we shall undertake over the next few weeks.