Greg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham) (Con): One council radically reducing its dependence on central Government is my council of Hammersmith and Fulham. Thanks to four years of successive council tax reductions, there has been an accumulated saving to the average council tax payer of £1,799. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating Hammersmith and Fulham council on reducing its dependence on central Government and delivering exemplary value for money for its local residents?
Mr Pickles: Hammersmith and Fulham council is indeed the apple of my eye. I recall visiting it in opposition and watching that first budget go through. First, the Labour party said that those were ridiculous cuts that would destroy services. Then it said that it would reduce council tax even further, but it ended up abstaining.