Friday, 9 January 2009
Cabinet Meetings Outside London
Last night I was in Birmingham at a reception for the Prime Minister. He is currently touring the regions of the UK before Parliament returns on Monday. Earlier in the day a meeting of the Cabinet had been held in Liverpool. It's the third time since September that the Cabinet has met outside London. The other meetings of the Cabinet were held in November in Leeds (Yorkshire) and in September in Birmingham (West Midlands). The last meeting outside London prior to September was in 1921 in Inverness (Scotland), where Lloyd George was when he summoned the Cabinet to meet him to discuss Ireland. http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/item/item_photograph.jsp?item_id=5662(Although it has since been revealed that the Cabinet did hold an impromptu meeting in Brighton in 1966 during the Labour Party Conference to discuss a proposal to activate statutory powers to enforce a freeze on prices and incomes.)
There is no requirement for the Cabinet to meet in London - but the United Kingdom has traditionally had a very centralised government. Brown took a lot of criticism yesterday after figures were produced which suggested that regional Cabinets cost £200,000 a time (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cabinet-meetings-outside-london-cost-pound200000-each-1230639.html) - but it's a clear sign that decentralisation continues to be on the agenda.