Interestingly, none of those nine local authorities has yet withdrawn its name from the 17 that signed up to explore the Yorkshire deal. Some have admitted to me that they have benefited from re-education at last week’s Conservative party conference and now better understand the Government’s position, but Councillor Carl Les, who is a very good friend of mine from my days in north Yorkshire, said today that he still favours the widest possible deal. He doubted whether he could persuade the Minister, but I am more confident that we can do so.
It is interesting to look at the geography, because it includes the north of the Humber but not the south, and I recognise that there would need to be strong links between the north and the south however this plays out. The proposed combined authority would control things such as transport. On the basis of deals elsewhere, it might have £150 million to spend that is currently spent by Whitehall. It would look after skills, and there are some imaginative proposals, including that the regional schools commissioner should report to the mayor because we need to improve the performance of Yorkshire’s academies. The mayor would also oversee the team that promotes international trade in Yorkshire.
There are lots of exciting ideas, but it is Yorkshire’s identity that matters to me. Whether at Keighley Cougars, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday or Leeds United, people do not chant, “Sheffield city region!” or “South Yorkshire!”; they chant, “Yorkshire!” [Interruption.] Anytime that my hon. Friend Mr Betts wants to intervene, I will obviously take that intervention.