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Levelling-up Policies: Regional Inequalities

Volume 742: debated on Monday 4 December 2023

14. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Government’s levelling-up policies at reducing regional inequalities. (900446)

In that case, can the Secretary of State tell us whether Scotland will receive more or less funding to tackle regional inequality than it would have received if we had done as 78% of voters in my constituency did and voted to remain in the European Union?

We are doing better outside the European Union. If we had followed the hon. Gentleman’s advice and remained in the European Union, we would have found that the fishing industry was decimated by the common fisheries policy and we would not have had the opportunity to invest in new levelling-up partnerships in Argyll and Bute, the Western Isles, Dundee and, of course, the west central belt. This UK Government are intervening where the Scottish Government cannot to support local government in Scotland, which is why whenever I address the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, I get a warmer welcome than the First Minister of Scotland does.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is a great shame that Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is now Labour-run, has scaled back its levelling-up plans by getting rid of the proposed e-sports arena? The first of its kind outside of London, it would have built on Staffordshire University’s UK-leading—indeed, world-leading—e-sports courses, as well as the 9,000 jobs created since 2015, the £56 million we got in levelling-up funding, the £17.6 million Kidsgrove town deal, and much more.

When it comes to levelling up and the e-sports centre, I am always clear that it is my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove who answers the call of duty. He is absolutely right to say that, under the Labour council now in Stoke-on-Trent, the huge progress we were making on levelling up has stalled. What we need are more Conservative elected representatives in Stoke-on-Trent.