The north of England has a “once-in-a-generation” chance to grab control of its own destiny and form a ‘Government of the North’, a West Yorkshire MP has said.
Linda Riordan, the MP for Halifax, told Parliament that “the North’s economy will never reach its full potential” until a new regional government is established, stretching from the Humber to the Irish Sea.
Speaking in Westminster, Ms Riordan told MPs that Britain is at “a turning point” as rafts of powers are handed to the devolved authorities of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“I would like to see a regional government for the North, using its powers to fight for the whole region,” she said.
The Labour backbencher drew parallels with post-war West Germany, where she said regional government had helped create “an economic and political powerhouse”.
She added: “As long as England remains so centralised and London-focused, the North’s economy will never reach its full potential.”
Ms Riordan said that a Northern government could have powers over transport policy, planning and job creation.
“If it is good enough for Scotland and Wales, it is good enough for the North,” she said.
Regional government was previously touted by the last Labour Government, with regional assemblies created and regional development agencies (RDAs) such as Yorkshire Forward established.
But the strategy stalled after plans for a directly-elected regional government for the North East were rejected by voters in a referendum.
The RDAs were finally abolished by the coalition government last year.
Guy Opperman, the MP for Hexham in the North East, told Ms Riordan: “This matter was decided in the North East in July 2004, when an overwhelming majority of 77.9 per cent rejected a regional assembly.”
And Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney said there was no need for another tier of government.
“As a proud Yorkshireman, there is nothing I like more than championing the North,” he said.
“But I do not want more bureaucracy.”