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Metro Mayors: Transfer of Powers

Volume 728: debated on Monday 20 February 2023

10. If he will make an assessment of the potential benefits of transferring powers from central Government to (a) the Mayor of Greater Manchester and (b) other metro Mayors. (903624)

Devolution gives local leaders the tools to level up. Mayors already drive economic growth, improve public services and respond to local priorities, which is why the Government are committed to deepening the devolution settlement for the most mature institutions, supported by stronger processes for accountability. The west midlands and Greater Manchester trailblazer deals will act as a blueprint for other areas.

Devolving powers seems like such a great idea, but is the Minister as concerned as I am that Mayors like Andy Burnham are using the role to build a personal power base and to implement policies, such as the so-called Manchester clean-air zone, that are diametrically opposed to Conservative values?

I thank my hon. Friend for staying vigilant on the creation of socialist power bases, which those of us on the Government side of the House take incredibly seriously. I believe that levelling up this country by devolving power is the best way to champion the Conservative values and principles of entrepreneurialism, innovation and individualism. As I have already outlined, this will happen alongside a deepened accountability framework.

The trailblazer deals in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester imply that everyone else will have to sit and wait, and not get extra devolution. Will the Minister disabuse me of that by setting out a timetable—nothing in her response indicates a timetable—for when the Mayors of other combined authorities will be given the same powers as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands?

Our priority at the moment is securing these trailblazer deals—securing the devolution of vital powers on things we know really matter to communities in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. Following that point, we will be talking to other metro areas about how we can deepen their devolution deals as well.

Does the Minister share my concern about the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s proposals for a workplace parking levy? It is a tax on business, jobs and families, is it not?

My hon. Friend is a great champion for his community and I would be happy to meet him to discuss this policy further.

The Minister knows that I am very supportive of the devolution of more powers to Greater Manchester, but one area that she needs to look at carefully is the increase in scrutiny that will be necessary at a very local level. As powers shift from this place, where scrutiny is strong, to local government, where scrutiny is not as strong as it perhaps ought to be, we need to look afresh at those powers.

I could not agree with the hon. Gentleman more on that point. If powers are being handed to local areas, which I think we all agree is right, it is important that that comes with a proper scrutiny framework. That is why we will shortly be publishing a detailed devolution accountability framework, alongside the trailblazer deals.