That is very helpful, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is interesting that Government Back Benchers are pressing the Opposition on when a policy will start, but will not admit when the next election will be. Pursuing that line of argument is disingenuous.
There is no doubt that council tax will be one of the most important things for people in today's debate. The bottom line is that whatever the Secretary of State says about funding for councils across the country, under Labour, council tax doubled from 1998-99. In fact, people are being charged £14 billion a year more in council tax than when Labour came to power. That is real money taken out of people's pockets that they cannot spend on what they otherwise would have liked.
The Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Barbara Follett, came to the Chamber before Christmas and claimed that a 3 per cent. settlement-a 3 per cent. increase-was somehow reason for celebration among people who were, by and large, getting no pay rise in the private sector. If that 3 per cent. increase goes through, it will add £42 to the bill of an average band D home and push bills to more than £120 per month.
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