§ Dr. Gibson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is his decision on the final caps for the three local authorities which challenged their cap; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Prescott
I have today laid before the House the draft Council Tax Limitation (England) (Maximum Amounts) Order 1997, under section 57 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, setting out our decisions on the final caps for Oxfordshire, Somerset and Warwickshire County Councils.
We have considered very carefully all the available relevant information, including the case made by the authorities in support of a higher cap, before taking our decisions. We have decided to confirm the caps proposed for Oxfordshire and Somerset, but Warwickshire will be permitted to budget at the level it has proposed to reflect the pressures it is facing following capital investment in its schools programme.
The caps are, in our view, reasonable and achievable in all the circumstances of the authorities concerned. These decisions will reduce public expenditure and the burden on council taxpayers in the areas concerned by £9.4 million in 1997–98. This will result in a council tax reduction (at Band D) of almost £28 in Oxfordshire, and £20 in Somerset.