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I start by thanking the Secretary of State for his recognition of the two firefighters, Alan Bannon and James Shears, who died fighting the fire in Shirley Towers. Alan Bannon was a constituent of mine, as the Secretary of State knows, and I am grateful to the fire Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Neill, for attending the memorial service yesterday. It was appreciated by everybody connected with the Hampshire fire and rescue service.
On Tuesday this week, the Local Government Association showed that the arbitrary and incompetent decision to suspend the Building Schools for the Future programme has cost local council tax payers in England £162 million in spending on much-needed school projects which will not now go ahead. What efforts did the Secretary of State make to persuade the Secretary of State for Education not to cut that programme? How does he intend to stand up for local councils and prevent his Department becoming the ministry of waste-wasted council tax payers' money on suspended schools projects, wasted council tax payers' money as a result of the cuts that he has brought in this year, and wasted money on the opportunity to build new homes?
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