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Leeds LEP (Devolution)

Volume 588: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2014

5. What discussions he has had with the Leeds local enterprise partnership on devolving powers and responsibilities from central Government. (906048)

(Mr Mick Clegg) I am pleased to confirm that negotiations on future devolution to the Leeds city region are under way, and I am hopeful of an announcement in the coming weeks. These negotiations build on the growth deal that I recently signed on behalf of the Government, which devolved £573 million to the local enterprise partnership from April next year.

Although I welcome the move away from centralisation that was prevalent under the previous Government, a number of my constituents have raised concerns that devolution of power may still feel centralised from their communities by city centres. What assurance can my right hon. Friend give that the allocation of resources will be based on proven need?

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the growth deal process that was agreed was based on the needs of the entire functional economic area—namely the £55 billion economy that covers both urban and rural areas in that part of the world. The significant transport fund worth £1 billion will lead to a step change in people moving not just between city centres, which he alluded to, but to moving around all of West Yorkshire. While it might be called a city deal, it radiates out to other non-urban areas in that region.

What can the Deputy Prime Minister do to ensure that local MPs have a formal role in the decision making process, particularly for transport funds in the Leeds city region, and that decisions are not just carved up by five Labour councils scratching each other’s backs to fulfil their priorities, while excluding other parts of the region that have equally important needs?

I certainly agree it is essential that any local enterprise partnership worth the name should consult locally and regardless of party affiliation with representatives in the areas affected, including MPs from all parties.