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Regional Growth Fund

Volume 590: debated on Tuesday 6 January 2015

The regional growth fund has already helped create or safeguard more than 100,000 jobs across the country and more still in the supply chain and it is contributing to the 1.75 million more people in work since 2010. I will shortly announce the outcome of round 6 of the regional growth fund, with £200 million available for investment in further job creation.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that to underpin that work, things such as GREEN at Berkeley—the Gloucestershire renewable energy, engineering and nuclear project—in which the Government have invested to improve training in engineering, energy and renewable energy, are exactly the way to ensure that we have jobs that are lasting, sustainable and productive?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If we want high-quality jobs to be sustained in the future, we need to invest in skills. That is why the Gloucestershire growth deal will see substantial investment in training in such skills at the former Berkeley power station. I know that he has been a big champion of that.

May I wish you a happy new year, Mr Speaker, and the Deputy Prime Minister a happyish new year—[Interruption.] A little humour, Mr Speaker. May I push the Minister on regional growth funds? The fact is that none of us will turn down help from the regional growth funds and my own constituency has some, but, at the same time, we have a totally demoralised democratic local government in this country that is desperately short of funds and desperately unable to meet the needs of local people. Is it not about time we had democratic, well-resourced local government in this country?

The news from the shadow Chancellor will not be welcome in the hon. Gentleman’s patch, as the shadow Chancellor has said that there will be more cuts for local government. He might want him to explain that. The leaders of the councils in Leeds warmly welcomed the growth deal concluded in July, which establishes a £1 billion transport fund for west Yorkshire that will benefit the hon. Gentleman’s constituents as well as others across west Yorkshire. That was warmly welcomed by leaders across the region, so I think that he should talk to them.

Surely the best way to achieve regional growth and to help areas such as the north of England is for good neighbours in Scotland to have full fiscal autonomy to counterbalance what the Minister’s colleague from Twickenham, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, called the great suction machine pulling life from the economy of other parts of these islands. Why is it Government policy to maintain a system that protects London at the expense of other areas?

That is complete nonsense. The record of job creation over the course of this Parliament shows that the vast majority of jobs have been created outside London. One thing we negotiated was a city deal with the city of Glasgow that was well received in that great city.