'When the North prospers, the nation prospers' - Ministers quizzed on Yorkshire devolution future in Commons

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Ministers refused to be drawn on the next steps  for devolution in Yorkshire as they were questioned in the House of Commons.

Boris Johnson announced before the General Election last year that he was prepared to negotiate devolution deals and put mayors in all areas Yorkshire, but little information has been released since about what these deals would look like and the funding that would come with them.

Hull West and Hessle Labour MP Emma Hardy. Photo: House of Commons

Hull West and Hessle Labour MP Emma Hardy. Photo: House of Commons

Negotiations are under way in West Yorkshire and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said other areas were also under discussion.

But Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South, yesterday queried the money attached to the West Yorkshire deal, and said: “If this Government is going to deliver on its commitment to the North, combined authorities must receive fair funding.

“The Government has promised to level up across the country, so can the minister confirm today that funding for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in any new devolution deal will match any of the combined authorities such as Greater Manchester on a per head basis?”

But Local Government Minister Luke Hall would only confirm “negotiations are ongoing” and instead focused on the recent financial boost given to Bradford City Council.

Speaking afterwards Ms Cummins said: “With the Budget on the horizon, we urgently need the Government to agree new devolution deals so that regions like West Yorkshire receive their fair share of funding. For too long, the North has not received the investment our people deserve.”

Eventually, many leaders want to see a One Yorkshire deal - with one powerful mayor for the whole region.

Emma Hardy, Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle, addressing Mr Berry, said: “The minister will know that when the North prospers, the nation prospers, and a recent independent study showed that the One Yorkshire devolution project could bring £30bn to our region’s economy. So will the minister finally allow us to bring the power home by letting One Yorkshire devolution go ahead?”

But Mr Berry said One Yorkshire proposals were not a “coherent economic geography” and instead said: “One of the first policy commitments of our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson before the General Election was to say that we should have devolution - mayoral at that - across the whole of the North of England.”

He added: “We proceeding with negotiations in West Yorkshire, we are having good discussions with South Yorkshire and the rest of Yorkshire is in discussions with us as well.”

Reacting to the questions and answers, Henri Murison, Director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “Devolution in Leeds City Region is a stated government priority, and would be a critical step towards our challenge to secure mayoral devolution across Yorkshire and 100 per cent of the wider North, leaving open further steps in the future.

"The amount of funding involved will be critical to unlocking private sector investment, which with a locally controlled and more effective skills system, improved local transport and industrial strategy interventions across research and development would create more better paying jobs than will be created otherwise.”