REGIONAL SCRUTINY COMMITTEE PLANS FOR NORTH EAST ARE A 'DOG'S DINNER', SAY LIB DEMS

March 4, 2009 1:24 PM

A senior North East Liberal Democrat has criticised the Government's plans for new regional select committees to scrutinise its performance locally.

Councillor Greg Stone spoke out after the Government forced through plans that will see only Labour MPs serve on each regional committee.

The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives refused to nominate members after disagreeing on whether places should be allocated by share of seats by each region or share of seats nationally.

As a result, the proposed North East Regional Select Committee members will be Sharon Hodgson (Gateshead East and Washington West), Dave Anderson (Blaydon), Phil Wilson (Sedgefield), Dari Taylor (Stockton South) and David Clelland (Tyne Bridge).

There will be no places for well-respected North East Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith or Conservative Peter Atkinson.

Other regional committees will also be solely represented by Labour members even where the the Lib Dems and Conservatives are the largest parties.

Councillor Greg Stone, Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said: "There can be no doubt that these proposals for a regional select committee are a complete dog's dinner.

"We are being asked to expect that effective scrutiny will be carried out by Labour MP's with a less than impressive record of holding the Government to account. "Indeed, several of the names on the list are known for their slavish loyalty and the banality of their contributions in the House.

"After the fiasco of the North East regional assembly campaign, Labour is now trying to impose a one party scrutiny system which has neither credibility nor democratic legitimacy.

"Sadly there is little danger of scrutiny of how Labour has let this region down, given the proposed membership."