The Department is carrying out a programme of work to analyse the economic significance and trade dynamics of more than 50 sectors of the economy. That includes analysis at both national and regional levels. Ministers and officials also have an extensive programme of bilateral meetings and visits across the country to listen to the views of business.
But we know from academic research that the regions in the north of England will be hit the hardest by Brexit. Further to previous questions that I have raised in this House about the fact that the Department has no staff based outside London, may I ask the Minister whether that position has now been reconsidered, and if so, how many will be based in Merseyside?
The hon. Lady is entirely wrong. The north-west of England is extremely important to our Department’s consideration of the negotiations and the terms of Brexit. I have to tell her that if she regards the Government’s proposals for the northern powerhouse as something that is inimical to the interests of the north-west, I am astonished.
My hon. Friend is entirely right: ports are absolutely crucial to the economic welfare of this country, not only in their own right but as enablers of trade. Ports have an extremely high significance, and I will of course be pleased to meet him to discuss the matter further.
As the hon. Lady will know, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has absolutely guaranteed the continuance of support for such programmes to 2020. She has to bear it in mind that the European Commission itself will not be making its own consideration of any future schemes until that time. We will of course take very seriously the issues that she mentions, but at this stage I cannot confirm anything.
Yes. We fully acknowledge the importance of the aerospace sector, which is a major employer in his constituency and in many other parts of the country. It is very clear to us that, for example, integrated supply chains are important to that industry, which is why we are engaging extremely closely with the industry. Indeed, I had meetings earlier this week.
Can the Minister detail the “significant powers”—to use the words of his colleague the Secretary of State for Scotland when he appeared on the “Sunday Politics Scotland” programme—due to be devolved to Scotland?