Our devolution deals will support economic growth across the country by devolving powers and, more importantly, funding from this place so that they can be determined by local people. By May this year, 33% of England’s population will have gone to the polls to elect their directly elected Mayors.
As the Minister no doubt knows, two years ago West Yorkshire council agreed a devolution deal for the Leeds city region. Why has there been no progress? What plans does he have to give West Yorkshire the devolution deal it wants, and why the delay?
We have made good on the city deals we negotiated with the Leeds city region. The problem on broader Yorkshire devolution, given that this is a bottom-up approach, is that there has not been agreement across Yorkshire about what form it should take. Some of the hon. Lady’s colleagues have not helped in recent weeks by proposing solutions on a boundary of a nature not within the legal framework.
Does my hon. Friend not agree that—to paraphrase President Kennedy —it is not so much what the Government can do to assist devolution deals, but what devolution deals can do for themselves through strong leadership following the election of effective Mayors?
Absolutely. For an example of the sort of leadership we will require in these mayoralties, my hon. Friend need look no further than the west midlands, where Andy Street is a fantastic candidate who I am sure will be a strong mayor and champion for the west midlands.
I thank the Minister for his continued efforts to keep the Sheffield city region devolution deal moving forward. I understand that the mayoral election will be postponed until next year but that it might be possible in the meantime for local authorities to access the £30 million on offer if they agree to appoint an interim mayor. Will he confirm that that is the case? If so, what criteria will he want to see in place for it to happen?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his unwavering support for the South Yorkshire and Sheffield city region deal. It is a good deal that will deliver funding and powers to South Yorkshire to help to drive forward its economy. We can look at interim mayors if necessary. I assure him that the Government are absolutely committed to the deal and will try to bring it forward as quickly as possible, but with the agreement of the four local authorities in the Sheffield city region.