Oral Question: Northern Powerhouse

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John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): What progress he has made on the establishment of the northern powerhouse. [903102]

The First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne): Our long-term plan is to turn around the decades-old economic divide between the north and south by building a northern powerhouse. We said we would create powerful new elected Mayors, and that is happening; we said we would speed up transport connections across the north, and we have committed £13 billion of investment; and for my hon. Friend’s Cumbria, there is a new enterprise zone, new air routes and nuclear research. The north is growing under this Government, and, with our plan, we will do everything we can to keep it growing strongly.

John Stevenson: I, like many of my constituents, want Carlisle and Cumbria to be part of the northern powerhouse. This is partly about ensuring the private sector invests and grows and partly about skills and infrastructure, but then there is the proposed Cumbrian deal. Will the Chancellor assure me that everything is being done, from the Government’s perspective, to achieve this deal, and will an elected Mayor be part of it?

Mr Osborne: As my hon. Friend knows—he is a real champion not just of Carlisle, but of Cumbria and the Cumbrian economy—we are working with local authority leaders and other elected representatives on whether we can have a new governance arrangement in Cumbria, which might include an elected mayor. This is a decision for Cumbria, of course, but it has come to us with this proposal, and we are working hard with the people of Cumbria to see whether we can get an arrangement that boosts jobs, boosts investment and makes sure that decisions that affect Cumbria are taken in Cumbria.

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