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Phil Hope: My hon. Friend makes a good point. He talked about creating a new independent commission of elected members who would distribute that ring-fenced money. I can see advantages to his proposals as well as a great many disadvantagesthat is why the balance of funding review is considering all the issues. Some advocates of local income tax suggest that its administrative costs are minimal, but that is frankly not credible. The review will need to hear a great deal of evidence about that.
I am aware that time is running out, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend also suggested the re-localisation of business rates. We have a predisposition against re-localisation because we fear that a postcode lottery may occur where businesses are allowed to go down that route.
I welcome my hon. Friend's contribution to this important debate. His paper certainly reflects the importance of getting it right, and it is admirably detailed in its proposals. These are complex issues. There is no easy fix and no magic formula: we need to plan for the long term. We are firmly committed to the new localism, as well as to providing new freedoms to local government and exploring options on how it is financed, although I have to say that the Government's considering how such options might work does not mean that we endorse or intend to adopt them, whatever newspapers might say.