CITIES and city regions are the powerhouses of the national economy.

If cities thrive and prosper, then so do the communities around them and the country as a whole.

We have a clear plan to grow key sectors of Glasgow's economy, to support new and existing businesses, and a focus on helping citizens into work.

Through Glasgow Labour's £50 million 'Glasgow Guarantee' we have the most comprehensive apprenticeship and employment support programme in the UK.

But we must do more to support economic growth.

Evidence from across the world shows that the way to grow the economy is for central government to devolve powers and finance locally to city regions, allowing them the freedom to innovate, create jobs and support entrepreneurship.

This process has already started in England where the UK Government has agreed 'City Deals' with Glasgow's main competitor cities of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.

City Deals are agreements between the Treasury and a city-region.

It involves the transfer of significant additional economic powers and funding in exchange for a disciplined and explicit plan, soundly governed, to invest in jobs and business growth.

Scotland's cities can't be left behind. That is why, along with our neighbouring local authorities in the Clyde Valley, we are continuing to work with the UK Government to secure Scotland's first City Deal for Glasgow.

This would allow us to lever in extra finance to boost transport investment, get people into work, and support businesses to grow.

The City Deal proposal has been warmly supported by Glasgow Economic Leadership and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. Both are led by successful business people.

I also welcome the supportive comments about this proposal made by Scottish Government Ministers and I hope to shortly meet with them to discuss how we can deliver the best deal for Glasgow.

As we near the 2015 General Election and with a growing opinion poll lead for Labour over the Tories, the economic role of cities in creating jobs is becoming a key issue.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband last week made a significant announcement about the range of powers that will be devolved to UK cities under a future Labour Government.

I warmly welcome Ed's announcement and the opportunities that it offers for economic growth by devolving powers locally over transport and housing infrastructure funding.

There are real lessons from south of the border that the Scottish Government can learn.

Quite simply, it's about time that politicians of all parties and at different levels of government resisted the temptation to centralise powers.

Instead they need to devolve more powers away from Edinburgh and London towards cities and city regions like Glasgow.

That's the way to create jobs.