The post of Minister for the West Midlands should be scrapped, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has claimed.
He condemned Gordon Brown’s decision to give every region of England their own representative as a “pointless gimmicks”.
Birmingham MP Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) is the West Midlands Minister, fighting the region’s corner in Westminster and co-ordinating the work of local agencies. But he has very formal power, and can only do his job by persuading other people to listen to him.
The Government also announced plans a year ago for regional committees in the Commons to give local MPs more control over health and education services, and to scrutinise the work of agencies such as Advantage West Midlands, the quango which spends £290 million a year.
However, these committees have still not been set up.
Mr Clegg said: “Look at regional ministers, one of the Prime Minister’s bright ideas from last summer. They’ve been in place for a year. But they don’t answer parliamentary questions. They don’t face scrutiny from parliamentary committees. They don’t make policy decisions for their regions. It’s time to scrap regional ministers and spend the money on something useful.”