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Business Growth: North of England

Volume 661: debated on Tuesday 11 June 2019

The industrial strategy is driving the northern powerhouse across the north of England. Our Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, has invested directly in northern businesses: £104 million, supporting 410 small and medium-sized enterprises.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I would also like to see Ministers throw their weight behind the Power Up The North campaign but, given that the current Prime Minister banned all mention of the northern powerhouse when she took office and that most of the candidates to succeed her are southern MPs, and one is a former Mayor of London, is there not a real risk that the northern powerhouse agenda will fall off a cliff with a new Tory Prime Minister?

I fully support the Power Up The North campaign. Modesty precludes me from saying that its proposal that the northern powerhouse Minister be a full Cabinet position should be considered by all future leaders of the Conservative party. I hope that, when the hon. Lady goes back to her constituency, she will channel “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” and say that, apart from the £7 billion devolution deal, the £38 million contribution towards a Graphene centre, a £10 million relief road, a £15 million international screen school, the £5 million Pankhurst Centre and a £243 million transport fund for people in Greater Manchester and her constituency—what has the northern powerhouse ever done for us?

Business growth in northern Lincolnshire would receive a major setback if the Scunthorpe steelworks were to close. Will the Minister give an assurance that Government support will continue until a buyer is found?

I know that the Secretary of State and my ministerial colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Andrew Stephenson), are working tirelessly to support the steel industry across the country and I know that they will continue to look at how they can support Grimsby steel.

In the north, European structural funds helped to create 70,000 jobs and 16,000 new businesses between 2007 and 2013. The Minister’s complacent and lackadaisical refusal to divulge any details of the shared prosperity fund raises real doubts that this will be a true replacement for those vital funds enabling significant regional decision making. So will he put the north above party infighting, help power up the north and commit to giving details of that fund before the end of the Tory leadership election?

I agree with the hon. Lady that people like me and her, who have been born and brought up in the north of England for our entire lives, can see that European structural funds have made a real difference. That is why this Government, with their UK shared prosperity fund, are absolutely committed to driving jobs and growth not least across the north of England. On the consultation on the shared prosperity fund, 500 stakeholders have been consulted so far at 25 events and that has included consultation by me with the northern metro mayors and all other mayors. I look forward to working with the new North of Tyne Mayor in Newcastle not least on this but also to discuss how he can spend £345 million—

Mr Speaker: Order.