Blunkett in call for regional parliament

Jonathan Reed

THE idea of regional assemblies may have proved unpopular under Labour, but could a White Rose Parliament be the way forward for Yorkshire?

Former Cabinet Minister David Blunkett claims the region – which has a population in excess of five million – would have 24bn at its disposal if it was given the same level of independence as Scotland or Wales.

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He put the idea to David Cameron yesterday in the House of Commons – but met with little enthusiasm from the Prime Minister.

Speaking at the centenary celebrations of Sheffield’s Cambrian Society last night, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP Mr Blunkett said: “The population of Wales is three million, Scotland’s just over five million and Yorkshire’s 5.2 million. Wales will receive 14.5bn for its National Assembly in 2011-12. Using the Barnett formula and rounding up for Yorkshire, that would mean 24bn.

“Like London, we could then have our own development agency; draw on and match European funding; ensure that we were able to reach out for inward investment and build up our own knowledge economy. We could set our priorities, share across departmental budgets and charge others for the use of our facilities.

“It may well be tongue in cheek; but, instead of a projected 82,000 job losses, independence for Yorkshire could have ensured the raising of loans for Sheffield Forgemasters...and making our priorities work for the people of our area.”