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City Deals

Volume 627: debated on Monday 17 July 2017

5. What discussions he has had with his counterpart in the Scottish Government on proposed city deals since 26 June 2017. (900505)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is leading on Scotland’s city deals; he spoke to the Scottish Government as recently as last Thursday. No direct discussions have recently taken place between Ministers from this Department and the Scottish Government on this specific issue, although we would welcome such talks.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Interestingly, the Democratic Unionist party managed to get £1 billion out of this Government in just a couple of weeks, yet the remaining city deals for Scotland are still on the table. Will he speak to the Secretary of State for Scotland to get his Government to push these deals along? While he is at it, will he consider the Ayrshire growth deal as well, because there has so far been a failure to have meaningful talks on that?

On the Ayrshire growth deal, my understanding is that Ministers met Keith Brown MSP and local partners from Ayrshire in January and again in April to discuss the priorities for it. I would have thought that Scottish National party Members would welcome the fact that more than half a billion pounds went to Glasgow for its city deal, and that £53 million went to Inverness and the highlands and £125 million went to Aberdeen for theirs. Why do SNP Members not get behind their own cities and city deals, rather than sniping from the sidelines?

Ashover in my constituency is being blighted by planning applications that we believe are inappropriate, despite our trying to put a neighbourhood plan in place, as the council had not put in place a local plan in time. Will the Minister be willing to meet me to talk about the challenge that Ashover is experiencing, as he will perhaps be able to offer some advice about a village caught between a rock and a hard place?

It is for my hon. Friend to have a meeting with the housing Minister, who I am sure will be happy to have such a meeting.

It was not altogether to do with city deals, but nevertheless the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley) has plunged his feet into the water. We appreciate that and wish him well in further contributions in the House.

Not too far from the Scottish city deals are the great prospects for one in Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State was kind enough to meet us just prior to the election, and since the election we now have an agreement that we will bring forward city deals for Northern Ireland. May I ask the Minister to engage as soon as possible ministerially, so that we can make sure we get the best deal for Belfast and our city regions?

We have already engaged with Belfast on the city deals and we look forward to working together to ensure that we can deliver on their promise. City deals for Northern Ireland are long overdue. They have succeeded in England, in Scotland and in Wales; now it is Northern Ireland’s turn, and we look forward to it.

The reality is that the deal with the DUP has seen Northern Ireland get £1 billion, which is more than all of Scotland’s city deals so far put together. The Edinburgh and south-east Scotland city regional deal has been delayed and the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, has had meetings cancelled at late notice by the UK Government. Will the Minister confirm whether the UK Government take Scottish city deals seriously and will he meet the ambition of the Ayrshire growth deal, the Tay cities deal and the Stirling deal?

We absolutely take the entirety of Scotland’s ambitious plans very seriously. That is why, as I said earlier, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is leading on this important policy. If the hon. Lady thinks that I or my Department can do something more, she must let me know.

The city deals so far have seen Scottish cities’ plans short-changed by the UK Government. The Scottish Government have put in far more than the UK Government have sought to find. If money can be found for Northern Ireland—if £1 billion can appear overnight—how long will Scottish cities have to wait before they get their money?

All the Scottish cities agreed the city deals mutually with the Government. Some £523 million has gone to Glasgow, £53 million to Inverness and Highland, £125 million to the Aberdeen region and, with a deal for Edinburgh and other deals on the table, I do not think the hon. Lady will have to wait too long.