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Regional Growth

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 26 March 2015

Since this Government were elected, nearly 2 million more people are in employment, with jobs created in every region of the country—60% outside London and the south-east. The 28 city deals and 39 local growth deals are helping drive local growth by transferring powers and resources from Whitehall to local economies.

I am grateful to the Government for investing £10 million in a growth deal to upgrade Gatwick airport station, and a further £18 million in the same growth deal to improve the highways in Crawley. Does the Minister agree that that is only possible because of the Government’s long-term economic plan, which means that we can invest in infrastructure for further growth?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is notable that, during the time when £20 billion was spent on regional development agencies by the Labour party, the divisions within our economy grew, whereas, under this Government, the growth in jobs and employment right across the country is accelerating, which is good news for every part of the country.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend for all that he has done to help take forward the vision of a northern powerhouse. That will lead not just to important infrastructure developments, but to the transfer of power to local authorities and a much-needed focus on key industrial sectors in the north-west. Will he tell the House what steps he has taken to help take the life science corridor forward in north-east Cheshire?

One principle behind our reforms in devolving powers is that every part of the country is different, and it is that difference that plays to the strengths of those reforms. Throughout this Parliament, my hon. Friend has been a formidable champion of the science sector in Cheshire and across the north-west. It is doing very well and creating jobs. I thank him for his efforts during this Parliament.

Here comes a tenuous link. The strength of the EU and the euro is critical not just for the economic success of the UK, but for regional growth. However, major concerns are rightly being raised about the effect that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations will have on our national health service and public services. Will the Minister and his business team use this very last Business, Innovations and Skills questions to rule the NHS out of the TTIP negotiations, or will it be left to a Labour Business Secretary and a Labour Government, as it always is, to save our NHS?

The hon. Gentleman said it himself: this is a tenuous connection. There is no relevance in it at all. But there is relevance in the sense that, as our economy prospers and is the strongest in the EU for job creation, other countries are looking to the success of our long-term economic plan. We advocate it to the world, and when Yorkshire is creating more jobs than France, it pays close study.