Northern Powerhouse parliamentary lobby group launches

1 Dec 17

A cross-party parliamentary group has been set up to lobby for progress on the Northern Powerhouse agenda, which was championed by George Osborne when he was chancellor.

The all party parliamentary group will bring together MPs from the main parties across the north of England, who say they will lobby collectively for greater investment in “business, skills and economic growth” in the region.

The APPG has been set up with the help of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, the independent body chaired by Osborne, which produces research and policy recommendations aimed at improving the northern economy.

Earlier this year the Northern Powerhouse Partnership published its vision for creating 850,000 extra jobs in the region and boosting growth by £100bn. Its report called for more creative collaboration between the private and public sectors, and promoted plans including capturing more hydrogen power in Leeds and over £1bn of investment in portable nuclear reactors.

Osborne first announced his backing for economic regeneration of the great northern cities when he was chancellor in the coalition government. His hope was that Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle could combine to rival the power and economic clout of London.

The ambition continued after the Conservatives entered government as a single party in 2015 with the creation of a dedicated Northern Powerhouse minister, a position now held by Lancashire MP Jake Berry. However, some fears were raised that the agenda would lose momentum once Osborne left government last year.

The APPG will be chaired by John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, although full membership of group has not yet been published.

Stevenson told the BBC he intended to use the APPG to “increase investment in and awareness of the North.”

Steve Rotherham, Labour mayor for the Liverpool city region, welcomed the chance to place northern England “at the centre of national political decision-making.”

Berry welcomed the group and said: “Through working together we will continue to turn the Northern Powerhouse into a globally recognised economy, delivering the very best of British innovation, skills, manufacturing and technology.”

The announcement came on the same day that the Social Mobility Commission identified a £6bn funding gap between London and the north.

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