Labour: Regional ministers would bridge north-south divide

Ed Miliband making speech

Labour leader Ed Miliband says English cities and regions would get increased control over housing, transport and skills under plans for a major expansion of devolution

The Labour Party has today announced that they would introduce nine “regional ministers” to devolve powers away from Whitehall and bridge the gap between the north and south.

Under the proposals, ministers would be appointed for London; the South East; South West; West Midlands; North East; North West; Yorkshire and Humber; East Midlands and the Eastern region.

The move was announced by Michael Dugher, the shadow Cabinet Office Minister. He told the IPPR think tank: “Regional ministers will put the voice of the English regions at the heart of Labour decision-making. They will help to shape policy around local and regional interests with a view to correcting the regional inequalities that have arisen under the Tories.”

The plans would see  £20 billion transferred  to “city regions” over five years for council and business leaders to spend on job creation, housing and transport projects. Ministers would sit on a “regional committee” designed to give regions a powerful voice in government and ensure policies were not skewed towards London and the South East.

Mr Dugher said that Labour believed that economic growth in the regions had to be driven at a regional level and accused the Prime Minister of neglecting the regions since abandoning “One Nation Conservatism”.

He said: “David Cameron now clings to the outdated ideology of ‘trickle-down’ economics – a model whereby growing prosperity of a few at the top eventually benefits others, in spite of growing inequalities between classes, ages and regions”.

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