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MPs shun regional meeting

PUBLISHED: 12:53 23 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:19 01 August 2010

THE East of England regional grand committee once again turned into a Whitehall farce today when not enough MPs turned up to make a quorum.

It was the second time that the Government's flagship devolution body for the six counties in the East has had to be abandoned and left regional minister Barbara Follett lamenting that MPs had missed the opportunity to scrutinise policy.

THE East of England regional grand committee once again turned into a Whitehall farce today when not enough MPs turned up to make a quorum.

It was the second time that the Government's flagship devolution body for the six counties in the East has had to be abandoned and left regional minister Barbara Follett lamenting that MPs had missed the opportunity to scrutinise policy.

The first meeting held in Bedford in September was aborted when it failed to attract a quorum, and the second attempt today in the House of Commons didn't fare any better.

No Tory MPs from Suffolk or north and mid Essex showed up.

Of the 12 Labour MPs in the region, eight were present including Chris Mole (Ipswich) and Bob Blizzard (Waveney). Just five of 40 Tories attended, two of the three Lib Dems - including the chairman Bob Russell (Colchester) - and one independent.

Gordon Brown established regional committee's for England as a way of countering the devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, they have no executive powers but can only question policy in each region.

Mrs Follett, said: “I am disappointed that - again - fellow MPs from the East of England have not taken this opportunity to come and talk about the priority issues facing the region and its residents.

“I feel it is vital that MPs - democratic representatives of the people of the region - hold Government in each region, and me as regional minister, to account and have the opportunity to raise both local and strategic issues, such as housing, transport, regeneration, jobs and skills. It is a real shame that they have chosen not to take part in this debate on priorities for the region's future.”

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