On Monday 21st March, I took the opportunity to ask the Department for Communities and Local Government about progress to pursue a Devolution Deal for the East Midlands and asked him to confirm that a devolution deal would not be imposed on local councils without their consent. I was reassured that the Government continues to pursue a deal that reflects the needs and wishes of local councils and residents with the promise of more control over job creation, housing, transport and skills.
You can read the full text of my questions and the Minister’s responses below:
Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley: What assessment he has made of progress on devolution in the East Midlands.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, James Wharton MP: My hon. Friend is a passionate advocate of local government matters and took an active part in the passage of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016. He is as eager as I am to see things progress. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced three new devolution deals in the Budget, including the deal for Greater Lincolnshire, in the delivery of which my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Matt Warman) played a key part. We are keen to go further. We are talking to additional areas. We want to do more.
Nigel Mills: I am grateful for that answer, but six district councils have now voted not to be part of the proposed north midlands devolution deal, so will the Minister confirm that he will not impose a deal on those areas without those councils’ consent? If so, what advice does he have for those who are still trying to get a deal for the East Midlands?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, James Wharton MP: If devolution is to last and if it is to make a real difference and work for those areas that want to be part of it, it must be done by agreement and through a bottom-up process. That is what is allowed in the legislation that this House passed and that is what the Government intend to do. We are not enforcing devolution on any area; we are working with those areas that want it to help deliver it. It is welcome that so many more areas continue to sign up and to have such talks with Government.