A powerful West Midlands senate is to be created in the House of Commons to quiz health chiefs and the bosses of local quangos.
A select committee of 10 MPs will have the power to summon senior officials, such as the head of Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency which spends £290 million a year, to answer questions.
A separate “grand committee” of the House of Commons will meet twice a year to quiz the regional Minister, who is currently Liam Byrne, the MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill.
It would have no formal powers but it would include all 59 MPs in the region, giving them a chance to raise any issue affecting the West Midlands, and could meet in the region itself as well as in Westminster.
The proceedings would be broadcast on a video feed available through the parliamentary website. The recommendations were published today by the House of Commons Modernisation Select Committee, following 12 months of delays.
But the report warns that select committee members could include members from outside the region they represent. Membership will have to reflect the distribution of seats among the parties in the Commons as a whole, including Scotland and Wales.
Based on the current make-up of the Commons, this means every committee will need to include at least five Labour labour MPs and three Conservatives - even if MPs have to be bought in from elsewhere to make up the numbers.
This is most likely to be an issue in the north of England, where there are very few Tories, or in the Liberal Democrat stronghold in the South-west, where there are few Labour representatives, although it could also affect the West Midlands.
Birmingham MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said the decision was “profoundly undemocratic”. He said: “They have made sure the Labour majority in Scotland and in Wales is a factor, rather than letting regions scrutinise themselves.”
Mr Hemming is a member of the Modernisation Committee which produced today’s recommendations, but was unable to convince colleagues that regional committees should reflect the political makeup of the region they represent.
Shrewsbury MP Dan Kawczynski (Con) said: “I would like to offer Shrewsbury as the first venue for these committees to meet in, because it is very important to go out to the shires and not focus solely on Birmingham.
“I agree with the idea of having a Regional Minister. So far, however, there has been no scrutiny or accountability, so I look forward to this very important role being given the checks and balances it deserves.”
He said meetings of the regional grand committee should be well publicised, and called for the public to be allowed to take part.
“It is very important that members of the public are able not only to see their MPs asking questions on their behalf, but to ask questions themselves,” he said.
Gordon Brown raised the prospect of regional committees in the Commons shortly after becoming Prime Minister last June, as part of a package of measures to reform the way Britain is governed.
But his proposals went into limbo for a full 12 months, partly as a result of opposition from officials in charge of regional quangos who apparently objected to the prospect of reporting to MPs.
The report reveals that Hazel Blears, the Local Government Secretary, intervened to insist that officials must be quizzed by a powerful select committee.
A separate report from a left-leaning think-tank today warns that the regions of England are still getting a raw deal from the Treasury.
The IPPR, which was close to Tony Blair, warned that public spending in Scotland was £5,676 per head, 21 per cent above the UK average, while the West Midlands received £4,430 a year, five per cent below the UK average.
The spending gap “is becoming an increasing source of tension between the nations of the UK” and could threaten the future of the United Kingdom, the report said.