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Regional Economies

Volume 587: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2014

This Government are committed to rebalancing the economy in order to strengthen every part of the UK. In July this year local growth deals were agreed with all 39 local enterprise partnerships across England. Each deal reflects the particular needs and capabilities of the local area. Growth deals are just one of several ongoing investment programmes aimed at helping every region in the United Kingdom achieve economic success.

May I explore the link with governance? What is the concrete evidence outside London of the slightest connection between economic growth and elected mayors?

It is fair to say, as we have heard today, that devolving power to more local areas enables the regions to take responsibility for the decisions that affect their areas, which in the long run will create good, solid, strong local long-term economic plans.

The Minister talks about supporting regional growth and rebalancing the economy, yet promises are being made— £7 billion to Greater Manchester, £7 billion potentially to top taxpayers. That money would sort out transport connectivity issues and help us grow our economy, so will she commit to the Dawlish avoiding line and the resilience measures that we need in the south-west now?

In the past four years the Tees valley has received five times as much investment from the regional growth fund as in the last four years of the Labour Government. That is going not just to large companies, but to smaller ones too, such as Wards and ElringKlinger in my constituency. Will the Minister ensure that regional growth funding continues to be a key element of rebalancing the economy?

My hon. Friend is right that, by handing back power to local leaders, we are enabling them to back local jobs and to create prosperity and long-term economic growth. That is exactly what this Government are committed to doing.

I welcome yesterday’s announcement in Greater Manchester and put on record my gratitude to the leadership in Greater Manchester for their efforts. May I offer some advice to the Chancellor? If he wants to endear himself further to the voters of Manchester, he might consider the totality of his Government’s policies on the area. When will he consider going further in fiscal devolution and secondary legislation devolution so that we can truly live up to our aims?

I welcome the hon. Lady’s support for the package, which is substantial. The priority must be its implementation and delivery, and we look forward to working with all parties to make sure that it is a success.