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This has been an interesting and important debate. The announcement of the local government finance settlement is an opportunity for Ministers to outline their plans for the future of local government funding. How much council tax people have to pay and, critically, how much money their council will get to enable it to provide local facilities and services are of huge relevance to many people's everyday lives. The debate has never been more important, given the current economic situation, but in spite of that the only reason we have had this debate today is that the Opposition have made time for it. We have used an Opposition day to force the Government to debate a fundamentally important topic for local communities across the country. Parliament is moving-we hope-towards more accountability and transparency. Ministers' attempts to stifle debate on the local government finance settlement fly in the face of that progress.
Today's debate showed starkly the choice that the British electorate face. They can have either councils that are accountable to them or councils that are accountable to Ministers in Whitehall, who think that local communities need to be spoon-fed with central Government diktat and priorities. We have heard that repeatedly in some interesting contributions to today's debate. I do not have time to mention all of them, but Mrs. Humble talked about how her council is making the most of the powers that it has. I note that it is a Conservative council, but I am sure that she is working with it to help it to make the most of its opportunities.
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