Julian Sturdy MP for Outer York: Hansard 18th March 2014
“I join colleagues on both sides of the House in welcoming the Secretary of State’s creation of combined authorities. Far from stepping back and passively surrendering to the unyielding rise of London, with its increasingly dominant role in our economy during the past 30 years—which I know the Secretary of State would never do—the Government are rightly taking the necessary and vital steps to tackle the north-south divide head on.
The reality is that all major conurbations that have worked towards the combined authority status have, in their day, been global leaders in their respective field—steel production in Sheffield, shipbuilding in Newcastle and Liverpool, cotton spinning in Manchester, which was the world’s first industrialised city, and woollen textiles in Leeds, which in 1770 handled one sixth of the country’s entire export trade.
Alas, an illustrious history alone is not enough to sustain jobs in today’s fast-paced and frenetic global economy. We are, as has rightly been pointed out many times, in a global race, not just with our established rivals, such as New York, Paris and Tokyo, but with the new emerging business centres of the east, such as Dhaka in Bangladesh, Hyderabad in India and Guangzhou in China, a city of some 14 million people of which many in this country will not have heard.
Providing our major northern cities with the tools they need to compete, not just against London but against everyone else in the international marketplace, is therefore essential to the future economic prosperity of the north and the rest of the country at large. Combined authorities show every sign of being successful in future, provided that the well-being of local residents and the long-term interests of the business community remain at the centre of their decision making.”