William Hague, who is without doubt one of the most popular politicians of modern times, was back in the North West on what will be one of his last visits whilst still an MP and Member of the Government.
The week that George Osborne announced Government plans for a Northern Powerhouse and Greater Manchester Mayor, William Hague was in town. He was joined by Sajjad and Baroness Susan Williams meeting media and business organisation representatives.
Topics discussed included jobs, immigration and our pledge to devolve more powers to the North.
Our long-term economic plan and vision of a Northern Powerhouse will be of enormous benefit to over the coming years. We are already seeing the number of jobs increase across the whole of the North West.
There are nearly 100,000 more people in work in the region than when the government came into power. The economic recovery is taking place in our country because of what the government has done. We are determined to ensure that the North shares in that economic recovery including high quality jobs.
Although the City of Manchester rejected the idea of an elected Mayor in 2012, George Osborne has held discussions with the leaders of all 10 Greater Manchester local authorities on a new model of governance, meaning a process has now been put in place to begin negotiations towards a directly elected mayor for Greater Manchester.
The new Mayor won't have additional powers, just chair what's already there but the role will bring greater accountability, helping to create a 'Northern Powerhouse' to maximise the economic potential of the North.
Immigration from outside the EU is now at its lowest since the 1990s and we have reduced entitlement to benefits for people coming to the UK and made sure they are required to learn English. The Prime Minister will be speaking in the next few weeks what we are going to do about renegotiating our relationship in Europe to make sure we can tackle migration from the EU as well.
We know only too well what the Labour government brought in terms of immigration – an open door policy. 4 million people came to settle in the UK last time there was a Labour government. It's important to support this government which is taking action to ensure that immigration is properly controlled.