My hon. Friend makes a good point. Despite some apparent superficial similarities between the two gentlemen, one thing is clear: John Prescott never ran away from a debate or argument, unlike the Secretary of State- [Interruption.] I did not say he never ran away from a fight; I just said he never ran away from an argument.
The truth is that the cuts were not only made too fast, but made without consultation. There was no discussion with local councils about whether or how they could be made. The Local Government Association initially put out a press release welcoming the fact that it had been promised consultation, but ended up sending a desperate letter two weeks later saying, "Will you please tell us what's going on?" The cuts came ahead of the Budget, which sets out cuts of 25, 30 or 35% to local council services.
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