Using a little used “closed question” procedure, Michael got two bites of the cherry earlier today when he spoke at Prime Minister’s Questions. Hansard reports:-
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): If he will have discussions with the Secretaries of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and for Communities and Local Government to determine the progress of the Midlands Engine initiative and the proposed West Midlands combined authority.
The Prime Minister: The Chancellor and I set out an ambitious long-term plan for the midlands, making it a future engine for growth for the whole of the UK. Across Government, we are actively working with business leaders and local authorities to progress this ambition.
Michael Fabricant: I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. The northern powerhouse will help millions, but it is the west midlands that is the only region in the UK that has a trade balance surplus with China, and it is Greater Birmingham that has the fastest rate of private sector job creation in the UK since 2010. So will the Prime Minister now ensure, in the national interest, that the west midlands secures the best devolution deal possible?
The Prime Minister: I think we have huge potential here to secure massive devolution to the west midlands. First, I would say to everyone in the west midlands who is concerned that somehow they will be left out by the northern powerhouse that the west midlands is in the perfect place to benefit both from the success and growth of London and, of course, a rebalancing of our economy towards the north of England. We look forward to the West Midlands combined authority coming forward with its plans. I would say to all of these areas contemplating devolution and devolution deals that the more they can put on the table, the bolder they can be with their vision, and the bolder the response they will get from Government.