YORKSHIRE will one day get its own elected assembly, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott predicted.
Plans for a referendum on an elected assembly were shelved last autumn after a large majority of people in the North-East voted against a similar "mini- parliament" for their region.
Speaking in Huddersfield yesterday Mr Prescott said: "I am sorry they did not vote for directly-elected regional assemblies. I'm a democrat and I believe we should have them."
But he added: "People in Scotland and Wales voted against the idea 20 years ago, but they supported the idea later.
"The question is: do you leave civil servants or quangos to make the important decisions regarding the future of this region in matters like housing, the regional economy or training?
"Or do you make decision- making more accountable?"
He said the Government would return to the subject if elected later this year - and predicted elected assemblies would come about.
Mr Prescott was speaking at the start of a major conference at the Cedar Court Hotel, Ainley Top.
More than 180 business leaders and figures from the public and voluntary sectors met for Shaping The Agenda, a conference to outline priorities for a 10-year plan being put together by development agency Yorkshire Forward.
Delegates met in groups to discuss issues such as improving the birth and survival rates of businesses, attracting investment and raising education and skills.
The conference was launched by Yorkshire Forward chairman Terry Hodgkinson and attended by figures including Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Lord Newby and a former chief economic adviser to the Treasury, Ed Balls.
Mr Prescott praised the record of Yorkshire Forward in reaching its targets for job creation, new business start-ups and investment last year.
And he said Yorkshire - together with regional development agencies in the North-East and North-West - had set the pace for other areas of the country.
The three agencies have pooled their powers under the banner of the Northern Way.
Mr Prescott added: "The Midlands are following the Northern Way approach and the South-West is doing the same.
"The three northern regions have tremendous potential to attract investment, businesses and jobs.
"We have seen how Scotland and Wales can exert a little political influence.
"There is no reason why the North cannot do the same."