Devolution: Yorkshire

Part of Adjournment (February, Easter, May Day and Whitsun) – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 10th October 2017.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 8:45 pm, 10th October 2017

In direct response to that, let me conclude with a suggestion to the Minister. It is possible that he will not initiate talks tonight. I hope he will—I have great hope and faith—but he may just not do so. This Minister from a Lancashire constituency—I put it delicately —may tell us a lot about his three happy years as a student in Sheffield, and we are looking forward to hearing about that, but it is just possible that to solve this problem we need a higher authority than the Minister—the Secretary of State, the Prime Minister or even the Prime Minister’s hero, Geoffrey Boycott. I am secretary of the all-party group on Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire and I have written to the Archbishop of York asking him to consider calling a meeting of all those involved in the devolution process to try to make some progress, which the people of Yorkshire sorely need. The Archbishop of York’s office has told me that he is supportive of the process of Yorkshire devolution, and he will closely examine the proposals of the 17 councils involved and will be in contact with the bishops of Leeds and Sheffield about the most appropriate course of action to take.

So I leave the Minister with two questions. Are the Government against the principle of One Yorkshire devolution or, as various hon. Members have suggested, would they be prepared to accept it as the final destination on an agreed staged process over the next two or three years? Secondly, if it is forthcoming, would the Minister accept an invitation from the Archbishop of York, even if he will not initiate talks himself, to take part in talks on Yorkshire devolution and how the people of Yorkshire can get what many of the great cities of England already have?