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Economic Growth: Yorkshire

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2017

The Government will drive productivity and economic growth in Yorkshire by investing in its infrastructure, developing the skills of its people and supporting its companies. At autumn statement we announced that the four local enterprise partnerships covering Yorkshire will receive £156.1 million from the local growth fund to back local priorities and support new jobs, as well as £3.7 million extra investment to bolster its resilience to flooding.

Will the Chancellor join me in welcoming recent investments by the likes of Boeing and McLaren in Yorkshire? Will Yorkshire continue to receive investment through the northern powerhouse investment fund, which is backed by the British Business Bank?

Yes. I welcome those investments by large companies, which will bring a large number of jobs to the area. It is also important that we support small and medium-sized enterprises, and the northern powerhouse investment fund will have a specific remit to target and support smaller businesses across the north.

Fourteen months after the devastating Storm Eva floods, it is welcome news to people in Kirkstall that the Sheesh Mahal restaurant will reopen tomorrow. However, many other businesses in my constituency are still struggling with astronomical increases in the costs of insurance and we still do not have a date for having proper flood defences in my constituency. What assurances can the Chancellor give businesses in my constituency that he has not forgotten about us?

As I have said, we have put additional money into flood defence spending, but—notwithstanding the reopening of the Sheesh Mahal restaurant—I take on board the hon. Lady’s comments about the delay that others are experiencing and I will look at the facts.

Absolutely, Mr Speaker. By the way, I would love to visit that restaurant.

My right hon. Friend will know that Boeing is a major employer in the United Kingdom. The opening of Boeing Sheffield, as it will be known, means that a major manufacturing plant—the only one of its type—will be introduced into Europe. Is that not a major endorsement by Boeing of post-Brexit Britain?

Yes, that is two things: it is a major endorsement by a global company and a major vote of confidence in the British economy. It is also a reflection of this Government’s policy that where we place large contracts for military equipment, as we have done with Boeing, we insist on some compensating investment in our economy, so that the investment in our military capability pays for jobs, skills and technology in the UK.

The Chancellor referred to local enterprise partnerships. Will he undertake to bring the LEPs across Yorkshire together to look at what further powers can be devolved to them to decide priorities on regional infrastructure investment and on the skills agenda? Will he also bring them together to talk about what needs to be done to prioritise their potential for inward investment in terms of Brexit?

We are very keen on LEPs working together across regions so that these very large pots of devolved funding, including some of the money in the national productivity investment fund that I announced in the autumn statement, can be used to maximum effect across a coherent economic geography. I am not so sure that it is within my power to bring them together, but I would certainly encourage them to work together.

Yorkshire is of course home to some of the country’s finest financial institutions, such as the Yorkshire Bank and the Yorkshire Building Society—

Like all financial institutions in the UK, they will be desperately keen to understand what the Government’s Brexit plans will mean for financial services. The Treasury still has not replied to my letter in January asking for some basic clarity, but we need to know how the Government intend to achieve equivalence, how it will be made certain and how we will avoid becoming just a rule taker from the rest of the EU. Chancellor, these are reasonable questions, so may we start to have some answers, please?

They are perfectly reasonable questions. I am not sure that the Skipton Building Society is holding its breath on how equivalence will work to allow it to carry on marketing complex financial instruments across the European Union. These are matters for negotiation. If we end up with an equivalence regime to allow financial services businesses to continue to trade into the European Union, it will be important that that equivalence regime is based on objective criteria, not political criteria, so that as long as our regulatory regimes are in fact equivalent, we can be confident of continuing to be able to trade.