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One Yorkshire

Volume 640: debated on Monday 30 April 2018

4. What assessment he has made of the potential merits of the proposal from 18 Yorkshire councils for a One Yorkshire devolution settlement. (905025)

Last month, high-level proposals were received from some councils in Yorkshire about the so-called One Yorkshire devolution deal. We are considering those proposals carefully and will respond to the authorities in due course.

Does the Minister accept that it is now the settled will of the vast majority of councils in Yorkshire, and the vast majority of the people there, that we move towards a One Yorkshire devolution settlement, and will he encourage the new Secretary of State to initiate talks with the Yorkshire councils so that he will be ever remembered as the man who delivered the first elected mayor to the white rose county?

The hon. Gentleman is something of a Mystic Meg of the Labour party. Unlike him, I want the people of South Yorkshire to have their say in the elections next Thursday. The Conservative candidate, Ian Walker, has said:

“This is a golden opportunity to show what South Yorkshire can do.”

The Labour candidate thinks that it should be a part-time job, and the Labour authorities are fighting with each other so much that they cannot agree on what power or money the mayor of South Yorkshire should have.

As the Minister will know, Yorkshire is a massive county—by far the biggest in the country. What assessment has he made of the ability of one mayor to cover effectively the whole of such a big county? My dad had the privilege of being the Mayor of Doncaster for a while, and that was a pretty full-on job for him, so how on earth can one person do the job effectively and look after the interests of the whole of Yorkshire? What level of bureaucracy and cost would be incurred by a single mayoral office for the whole of Yorkshire?

I would not like to be drawn on responding to the high-level proposals we have received, but I will say this: later this year, the city of Leeds will be the only core city in the north of England that has not benefited from devolution, and that is a terrible shame for everyone who lives in West Yorkshire.

Does the Minister recognise that the Humber economic area has to be included in any devolution deal for Yorkshire because of the energy estuary, which is vital to the northern powerhouse?

All these devolution deals are ground-up, and if people from Hull and the Humber come to the Government with proposals for devolution for that area, the Government will of course look at them in the way that they do all devolution proposals.