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Substantive Reply to Letter

Volume 568: debated on Wednesday 9 October 2013

Q8. When he plans to give a substantive reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East, sent on 3 July 2013. (900330)

Local growth is a priority across Government. The regional growth fund is helping to create some 66,000 jobs with specific investment in the north-east of £330 million. We do not want to go back to the previous Administration’s system, but obviously the Local Growth Committee in the Cabinet brings together the Secretaries of State from all the key Departments.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Department of Health is now consulting on changing the funding formula for health care in the north-east and Cumbria? That will have the effect of taking some £230 million out of the health care budget for the region. Who in his Government stands up for the north of England?

The whole Government stand up for the north-east of England. If the right hon. Gentleman wants some news about the north-east of England, you have Hitachi building the new train plant, Nissan expanding in Sunderland and the new Tyne tunnel. There is plenty of good news in the north-east.

Let me answer the right hon. Gentleman’s specific question about NHS funding. This year’s funding for the north-east clinical commissioning group is going up by £170 million, a 2.3% increase. That is what is happening under this Government. Of course, under Labour’s plans health spending would be cut. The shadow Health Secretary, the man who they have decided—inexplicably—to keep in the shadow Cabinet has said that increasing health spending is “irresponsible.” That is the Labour view. We do not agree with that and that is why we are spending more money, including in the north-east.