It is a privilege to represent both the constituency of Barnsley Central and the communities of South Yorkshire as the elected Mayor of the Sheffield City Region.
I speak today with both hats.
I am a proud Member of Parliament and Mayor.
Serving our communities is a privilege.
But it is not in the halls of Westminster, or the corridors of Whitehall, where decisions over many of the issues that affect our communities are best made.
On the matter of our public transport systems,
of how our schools, colleges and universities work together,
where relationships between local businesses and the public sector are forged,
on where best to invest in infrastructure,
these decisions should be made at the local level.
And it must be a collective endeavour in Westminster, city region Mayoralties and town halls to work relentlessly to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the mid 21st century.
It is a world that has never been more challenging.
Or so full of opportunity.
Where the sum of human knowledge can be found on the screen of a smartphone.
Where technology connects the far reaches of the globe in ways unimaginable a generation ago.
But this is also a country where there is no guarantee of higher living standards for the next generation.
A country where too many of our communities do not believe that their best days are in front of them.
Where too many of our communities in Barnsley and South Yorkshire do not believe that this Government, or those of the last 8 years, are on their side.
Where too many believe it is being failed by this Government’s assault on their public services.
A country where many of our communities feel as though they are ignored because of where and who they are.
And that Mr Speaker is a waste of the ingenuity and the potential of a part of this country that could, given the right tools, be at the forefront of the world’s fourth industrial revolution.
What is emerging is that South Yorkshire is a region that is resurgent.
We’re witnessing first in a generation growth in advanced manufacturing and engineering jobs.
It is this spirit of endeavour and innovation behind our vision for a Global Innovation Corridor that will connect our businesses, researchers and urban centres with our international airport to create transformational economic growth.
Whilst this Government’s commitment to the development of new Local Industrial Strategies is something we welcome…..
to tackle the structural inequalities locked into the regions of this great country we must make structural changes to the way in which we prioritise investment.
In short Mr Speaker – actions speak louder than words.
And I am afraid that the Budget put before the House is yet another missed opportunity.