From Yorkshire Post, July 30th, 2021
Written by Caitlin Doherty
Lord Timothy Kirkhope of Harrogate has thrown his support behind the campaign to reinstate the Grand Committee for Yorkshire and the Humber, launched ahead of Yorkshire Day this weekend.
Lord Kirkhope, who was MP for Leeds East in the 1980s and 1990s, thinks the resurrection of the group will provide a space for the 54 Parliamentarians representing Yorkshire and the Humber to discuss issues that affect the whole region.
Grand Committees are a forum for all of the MPs who represent a country or a region to meet and discuss issues that matter to their constituencies, and the campaign to revive the Yorkshire group is being made by the Yorkshire Society and the One Yorkshire Committee.
The Yorkshire and the Humber Grand Committee met just once in October 2009 at Barnsley Town Hall, having been established under Gordon Brown’s government before the papers that allowed them to exist expired under the coalition in April 2010. Lord Kirkhope said “a grand committee would give a broader and more consensual debate” on the “broader issues and how they might affect our region.”
He told The Yorkshire Post that “devolution processes will benefit from having a Grand Committee” and “it will allow Yorkshire to speak with one voice” on big issues such as the environment or infrastructure projects.
Labour’s Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, said she was also “keen” for the committee to be re-established to “ensure we continue to amplify our voices in Parliament.”
She added: “Yorkshire and the Humber MPs are always keen to find ways of coming together to promote our region and shout about what we do so well, whilst finding ways to fight for what we need.”
Writing alongside Lord Kirkhope in today’s Yorkshire Post, Vice President of the Yorkshire Society, the former Labour Keighley MP, John Grogan said: “There is a very strong case for future Parliaments devolving much more power to Yorkshire. There is one thing that could be done immediately, however, which would give Yorkshire MPs greater powers to influence and scrutinise policy.”
They went on: “What is missing now within our Parliament is a forum for Yorkshire’s MPs, who together represent over five million people, to specifically highlight opportunities and challenges facing the whole of God’s Own Country – regardless of party.
“Now would seem to be an ideal time for the Government to revive the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Grand Committee, not least so it could debate and scrutinise the levelling up agenda and progress towards devolution.
“Grand committees could play an important role in all the regions of England in the coming years as they did previously in the nations of the United Kingdom before substantial powers were devolved to their own Parliaments.”
A Government spokesman said: “The UK Parliament legislates for the entirety of the UK and a wide range of parliamentary mechanisms are available to its Members to represent the interests of their constituents.
“The procedure committee is conducting an ongoing inquiry into the ways in which the procedures of the House of Commons engage with the UK’s territorial constitution and we await their findings.”