May I welcome you to your new position, Madam Deputy Speaker? I know that you will watch over our proceedings carefully but firmly. I also want to congratulate the hon. Members for Dudley South (Chris Kelly) and for Wolverhampton South West (Paul Uppal) on their maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton South West, who is no longer in the Chamber, said we should think of him as a good and decent person, and I have no doubt that he is, but he is going to have his compassion-and, dare I say, his sense of social justice-tested by the proposals we are discussing today and those to come in the weeks and months ahead.
I also recommend that Mark Pawsey look back at his speech today because I think he has highlighted an important difficulty. Although we all want to decentralise, it can be tempting to suggest that we should take control when we think things are not being done quite right at the local level. He gave the example of the high salaries paid to some staff under the Tory-Liberal Democrat council at Brighton and Hove. That might point to another suggestion for the Secretary of State: that he should have some jurisdiction over local government salaries, as well as knowing about every budget over £500 that is spent in local government.
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