ED MILIBAND has promised to bring back a minister for Yorkshire as a key feature of his devolution vow to the north.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, the Labour leader said: “Yes, we will bring back a Yorkshire minister. It is an important part of having a government that speaks for every part of Britain.”
The claim came on a visit to Huddersfield, where he added that Labour’s wider devolution package would end a situation in which different northern regions are competing against each other for new powers.
The Labour leader also promised to end “exploitative” zero-hour contracts although he faced embarrassment when the Conservatives later released figures suggesting Labour councils in Yorkshire employ more than 2,000 staff on those terms.
Mr Miliband said he was confident Labour could pick up seats in the region on May 7.
“Yorkshire is a key part of my plans,” he said. “This region is a key battleground. It is the people of Yorkshire I want to stand up for. There are 59,000 people on zero hour contracts here in Yorkshire.
An intervention on this scale and with this clarity from Britain’s business leaders is unprecedented in any recent general election.Chancellor George Osborne
“I’m saying to all those people, their families, people that know then, we will end this.”
Chancellor George Osborne was also in the region yesterday claiming Britain only has the 36 days to polling day to save Britain’s economic recovery.
But Mr Miliband urged voters to consider the wider impact of coalition policies in the North.
He said: “We have seen hugely disproportionate cuts in the north, 75 per cent greater than in other parts of the country, so I do not think David Cameron and George Osborne are friends of the north.
“I’m proud of our devolution plan. We have a comprehensive plan, they do not. They will pick and chose which areas get more powers. We are not going to pick and chose, we say every part of the country should have those powers over local transport, including buses, or economic development, or skills or business rates.”
Regional ministers were a Gordon Brown policy, with Rosie Winterton the first and only holder of the post in Yorkshire before the coalition government axed the posts.
The Government has faced criticism since it abolished much of the regional infrastructure in 2010, leaving northern regions with no united voice in Whitehall. Ending the Yorkshire void in the corridors of power is a key feature of A Manifesto for Yorkshire published by this newspaper.
Answering questions from workers at the David Brown Gear Systems factory in Huddersfield, Mr Miliband set out his promise of legislation in a Labour government’s first Queen’s Speech guaranteeing employees the right to a regular contract after 12 weeks of working regular hours in practice with an employer.
Mr Miliband faced accusations he is anti-business, with 100 major employers signing a joint letter backing David Cameron’s Conservatives.
The party leader retorted that the signatories represent only a tiny proportion of British business and had not mentioned Labour by name in their letter.
IN FULL: OUR YORKSHIRE MANIFESTO...