The noble Lord, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, again, talked about fiscal devolution, and I hope that I have in some part answered that question. He asked why we needed a mayor. We need maximum accountability for maximum powers devolved. He talked about HS3, and I think that I have covered that, but he also asked, “What is the northern powerhouse?”, which got me

8 Jun 2015 : Column 721

thinking. For me, the northern powerhouse is the ability of some of those great northern industrial places to reignite their greatness again. That is what I understand it to mean. Of course, we have the northern powerhouse but we also have county authorities that wish to institute growth in their areas. The northern powerhouse might mean a certain thing in terms of cities, but we do not forget our counties in all this.

The noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, talked about resources and said that it was our money. Of course, all money raised is our money, because we are the taxpayers. In terms of the devolution of powers and funding, it gives us the chance to be masters of our taxpayers’ destinies in a more effective way and to get economic growth.

There has been a lot of talk about single-party states. No combined authority would be formed without the explicit agreement of each of its constituent parts. My noble friend Lord Sherbourne also asked about the scrutiny and accountability, and asked how you ensure effective scrutiny when a scrutiny system cannot overturn but can challenge the decision of the mayor in question. Our view is that overview and scrutiny committees for combined authorities should be chaired by a person who is not actually a member of the majority party represented on the combined authority. I hope that that gives the noble Baroness and my noble friend some sort of comfort in holding a mayor to account.

The noble Baroness also talked about some of those non-constituent parts of a combined authority. It is a very important issue, which we want to consider carefully. There are provisions in a draft legislative reform order before Parliament which would, if enacted, give greater flexibility as to what can constitute an area of a combined authority. As we take the Bill forward, we will look carefully at how best to provide that flexibility so that the governance structures, including that of a metro mayor, can provide the accountability and transparency of the decision taken.

8 Jun 2015 : Column 722

I shall gallop through the last two pages of questions, because I am coming up to 20 minutes. My noble friend Lord Horam made some lovely points about industrial Lancashire and the cotton industry, and I think that my noble friend Lord Ashton of Hyde’s forebears’ names might have been there somewhere. He talked about leaders having to beg for funding in the old days and feeling almost embarrassed; the time has gone to feel embarrassed. Government is now reaching out to local authorities and local areas to ask what they want.

The noble Baroness, Lady Donaghy, talked about powers being ceded by consent. The answer is yes to that. She also asked what powers may be included. I think that I answered that previously in saying it was about what powers local areas would want included.

The noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, made the point about counties, and I hope that I answered that in saying that we really do want to hear from counties that might be attached to cities, et cetera.

The noble Lord, Lord Snape, asked whether the orders would go through on a negative resolution. No, they would not—they would go through on an affirmative resolution. He talked about transport needing primary legislation. That is absolutely correct and we hope to bring it through later this year.

However, I cannot finish without mentioning the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, and his love of Liverpool and the port. He is absolutely right about what a difference that port will make.

I hope that I can allay some of the cynicism expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Henig, about Whitehall trusting local government. We shall see as time goes on. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this excellent Second Reading debate and look forward to continuing the arguments or debate in Committee.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 8.24 pm.