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.