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Northern Powerhouse

Volume 599: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2015

The northern powerhouse is a fantastic opportunity for north Wales. My hon. Friend will appreciate that there is significant economic and business value in strengthening links in the region.

Will my hon. Friend say whether Welsh Ministers are engaging positively with the United Kingdom Government in pursuing the northern powerhouse agenda, or are they maintaining their customary position that nothing that happens in Cheshire is of any interest to the people of Flintshire?

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. I must admit that I was disappointed with the Welsh Government’s attitude to the northern powerhouse, highlighting what they said was lowly aspiration and offering only trickle-down benefits to north Wales. The reality is that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor’s plans for the northern powerhouse are about building a strong economy and a strong United Kingdom.

North Wales suffers from some of the poorest mobile phone coverage across the United Kingdom. If we want to have a powerhouse in north Wales and the north of England, will the Government intervene to ensure universal coverage in north Wales and make it the digital centre of the United Kingdom?

My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary, when he was Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, brought together a groundbreaking arrangement between mobile operators, in addition to the Telefónica deal, with the auction for the 4G communication network, that will deliver at least 95% coverage for the whole of Wales and 98% across the rest of the UK. That is in contrast to the 3G deal that was offered by the previous Labour Government, which led to less than 90% coverage across Wales.