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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 2:30 pm, 26th June 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, in particular about investment in transport infrastructure. Without that, the wider area of my hon. Friend Dan Jarvis would have seen none of the road network in the Dearne valley that facilitated growth, with a whole series of new companies and the new jobs to go with them. My hon. Friend Nick Smith is also right—he pre-empted my final question—to say that we need exactly that assurance from the Minister.

In South Yorkshire, the objective 1 funding worked: our economy grew by 8.5%. However, regional inequality has soared again since 2010. We are back in the same situation, qualifying as a least developed region and eligible for the highest level of EU funding had we been continuing as a member.

I know that the regional disparities concern both sides of the Chamber. Inner London is, unsurprisingly, our richest region, with GDP at 614% of the EU average—though I recognise that in London, too, there are pockets of deep poverty—but that figure falls to 69% for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. London is obviously represented overwhelmingly by colleagues from my party, but Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the Conservative party—this debate is about a fair deal for all our regions and about rebalancing our economy.