Case for One Yorkshire devolution proposals questioned by Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick
A Government Minister has questioned whether Yorkshire represents a "functioning economic geography" for the purposes of devolution as he was questioned about the stalemate in the region.
During Local Government Questions in the Commons this morning, Conservative Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick said it was "not clear" that the case had been made about the benefits of devolution to what he described as "a historic county on the scale of Yorkshire".
Late last year, a dossier was handed to the Government by the 19 political leaders backing a One Yorkshire proposal about how the plan could add as much as £30bn a year to the region’s economy by boosting its low level of exports and creating more businesses.
The report setting out how its 5.3 million population could benefit by an average of £5,400 a year if Ministers agree to the widely-supported proposals said there was strong evidence that Yorkshire and the Humber is a “coherent economic area”.
Mr Jenrick referred to the proposals in response to a question by Keighley MP John Grogan, a prominent supporter of plans to hand vital powers and funding to a One Yorkshire mayoral authority.
Mr Grogan asked: "In the light of statistics produced by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence which suggests that since 2010, growth in London has been over three per cent, while in Yorkshire and the Humber it has been less than one per cent, is it not time for Ministers to start talking seriously to the 18 Conservative and Labour local authority leaders who advocate One Yorkshire devolution with transition arrangements in South Yorkshire and elsewhere."
In response, Mr Jenrick said Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire was reviewing the proposals put forward by what he described as the "One Yorkshire consortium".
He said: "It is our priority, and I think it is a reasonable one, that the Sheffield City Region, and its mayor, is taken forward, that the elected mayor is able to fully perform his function on behalf of those who elected him a year ago.
"We have said that the purpose of devolution is to create a mayoralty around a functioning economic geography and it is not clear that this case has yet been made by a historic county on the scale of Yorkshire, but we will continue to consider the proposals."
Mr Grogan said afterwards: "tells me afterwards: "It is frustrating that Mr Jenrick does not appear to be properly briefed on the report produced by independent economic consultants, which demonstrates that Yorkshire is a functioning economic area with a powerful distinctive brand."
A devolution deal has yet to be agreed for Yorkshire, despite leaders in Manchester, Liverpool and the Tees Valley being handed more powers and controls over how money is spent in their areas.
The Sheffield City Region deal agreed in 2015 with then-Chancellor George Osborne has not been implemented as Doncaster and Barnsley's leaders, who prefer a One Yorkshire deal, pulled out last year.