Osborne in pledge over Leeds economy

Tory shadow chancellor George Osborne today pledged to get the Leeds economy back on its feet and kick-start the city's stalled developments.

Mr Osborne declared that should the Conservatives win the election, the people of Leeds should judge him by the extent to which his policies help West Yorkshire's economy catch up with London and the South East.

He said: "What Leeds needs are the businesses of Leeds to have the confidence to invest and grow and take on new people and to complete construction projects."

He made his comments after Labour cabinet minister Lord Mandelson accused Conservative leader David Cameron of "looking down his nose at the regions".

The Business Secretary said: "He may not regard these people in the regions, as he calls them, worthy of government support. "Our view is they should not be forced to do without government support."

Mr Osborne hit back, saying that voters will "judge Labour by its record" and conclude that "actually the regions have lost out".

He claimed Tory plans to partially block the government's one per cent increase on employer's National Insurance contributions would save 4,842 jobs in Yorkshire.

And he insisted that Tory councillors in Leeds are "working incredibly hard" to ensure promote future jobs growth in the city.

He added: "The Conservative plans for the recovery, includes the National Insurance plans and help for businesses with a reduction in the corporation tax rate for small and large companies.

"A very specific pledge to the people of Leeds and every other part of the country (is) that if you create a new business in Leeds in the first two years of a Conservative government, the first ten people you will employ you will not have to pay employers' tax on them."

"One of my explicit benchmarks against which you would be able to judge the success of a Conservative government is whether we create a more regionally balanced economy."

Rosie Winterton MP, Labour's Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber, criticised Mr Osborne's planned National Insurance cut, saying: "The Tories would either have to increase other taxes or threaten jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber by slashing front line spending."

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