September 27, 2009 4:15 PM

A Newcastle Liberal Democrat has criticised the North East MPs who missed the region's first Regional Grand Committee.

A total of 30 MPs could have attended the meeting, which was discussing ways of tackling the recession.

Only 13 North East MPs chose to attend the event with Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith MP being the sole representative of the opposition due to the absence of the North East's only Conservative MP Peter Atkinson.

Newcastle campaigner Ron Beadle said: "At a time where youth unemployment is rising in the North East, all of our MPs should have met today to address the region's future.

"In the case of Newcastle's Doug Henderson, you have to wonder whether his decision to retire at the next General Election actually means he is retired already."

The Committee was set up as part of a drive to bring parliamentary democracy closer to the people and allow for greater democratic scrutiny at a regional level.

North East MPs from all parties now have a forum to debate the 'state of the region' and to question the Rt Hon Nick Brown MP as Minister for the North East.

Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick upon Tweed, added: "It's no substitute for real democratic regional government with real powers to tackle the region's problems, but I did not want to miss the opportunity to challenge ministers to do more for the North East."