My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, on securing this timely debate. Of course, the anchor for our debate is the IPPR The State of the North report, which was published on
The IPPR document published 16 days later attempts to plug the gap. It is a wide-ranging report on the north of England economy and its pages set out the Brexit concerns. Its number 1 recommendation is that there should be a northern voice at the Brexit negotiating table. It calls for,
“the formation of a Northern Brexit Negotiating Committee to determine the type of Brexit that would best suit the North, to speak with one voice”.
For me, a further striking point of the IPPR paper was its cover. In showing a map of the north of England, it showed it as what many of us have often thought of as three regions—to come back the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Prescott. If those three regions existed, it would pretty simple for them to co-operate, to talk for the north and to become a power base for the north. The diversity of cash-strapped and debilitated local government, ill-fitting combined authorities, mixed devolution and several LEPs does not easily convert into northern clout.
I want to talk about two further things. Can the Minister provide any further insight into the prospect of devolution in Yorkshire? Yorkshire is an understandable brand; I have lived there all my life—nowhere else. The efforts of the Yorkshire tourist board, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Yorkshire Post make it clear what Yorkshire means. The cricketers say that if you get a strong Yorkshire, you get a strong England. I say that if we get a strong Yorkshire, we will get a stronger north. Does the Minister have something to say on whether he can see daylight with regard to devolution for Yorkshire?
My final point is that the ever-helpful House of Lords Library paper includes copies of the Hansard report from