Northern England: Opportunity and Productivity - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:06 pm on 12th January 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour 2:06 pm, 12th January 2017

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that thorough, respectful and inclusive response. I am grateful to him for some reassurances. I am glad that he reminded us of the importance of MPs and elections. I hope MPs will read this debate. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this thoughtful, wise and sometimes entertaining debate. It has also been challenging, as it was meant to be.

When I came to the Chamber today, I had not realised that so many parts of the north would be represented. I have sympathy with my noble friend Lord Prescott’s concerns about a strategy for the whole region. As many have pointed out, each region has its own characteristics, from population to industries, culture and cricket. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, that mentioning Yorkshire cricket to a Lancastrian is not the right thing to do. Has he looked at Yorkshire’s record recently?

We have moved between many topics: small business, housing, education, agriculture and so on. We have also heard of initiatives such as Get Bradford Working and the North East England Chamber of Commerce. I do not discard culture as unimportant. Culture is really important. Opera North is one of my favourite companies and the north has many cultural seats of excellence, as it does in sport. They are all important for local pride and local interest.

The most important thing that has emerged for me today is this issue of the urgent need for dialogue between the Government and the north. Many people mentioned this, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Scriven. Investment has also been mentioned many times. The issue of local councils is difficult. As the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock said, give them the tools. I know they are cash-strapped. I think we would all plead with the Minister and the Government to listen to the north and make Brexit an opportunity. That opportunity will be lost if the north is not encouraged and supported. I stress again the need for a positive dialogue between the Government and the north to achieve our ambitions.

Motion agreed.