My hon. Friend is right. The disciplines of the private sector are valuable and, in difficult times, we must be spurred on our way by looking innovatively at how we deliver services. We should not be afraid. Some hon. Members were derisive about the idea of a limited local authority, but it is perfectly valid to view local authorities as commissioners of services, not necessarily providers of all of them. We should consider innovative relationships between local government, social enterprise and the voluntary sector, and innovative ways to protect vulnerable people through relationships with social enterprise and the voluntary sector.
Opposition Members also made derisive comments about putting information in the public domain. An open and transparent information-sharing culture for local government and the public sector is precisely one of the ways in which we will drive innovation, reduce cost and continue to deliver excellent public services. There is no contradiction between those things.
It is important that regional quangos, operating as agents of central Government, do not dictate to us. We have heard little about democratic accountability and local people in the debate. We must ensure that we revert to the idea that funds that are controlled locally are spent in a way that is democratically accountable to the people. I am sure that my constituents in Halesowen and Rowley Regis would look forward to that.
We have the opportunity to decentralise power and simplify the institutional complexity so that we can truly reconnect local government with 21st century citizens.
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