John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): Does the Minister think it would be in the best interests of the north-east to have an elected mayor?
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James Wharton: My hon. Friend raises a valid point. An elected mayor provides the focus and accountability; it means there is someone to drive the agenda forward and be accountable for it. However, we would not impose this on any area. It will be delivered only by agreement. That is true of the north-east as it is for the country as a whole, and it is true of the text in this Bill, which does not give us the power to impose. It gives us the power to make deals with the areas that want them. Devolution should be on the table for any area that wants it, but it should be imposed on no one, and that is what the Bill ensures will happen.