During the first week of September the government's new white elephants, the regional grand committees will be meeting all over the country. These committees are meant to shadow the regional select committees which have been set up. Talk about an expensive waste of time and money. They are meant to give the impression of Whitehall devolving power, but actually, they have no powers and are just talking shops. The select committees all have Labour majorities even if the region doesn't. This has led to a farcical situation in the eastern region grand committee, which has 55 MPs. To sit, it needs a quorum of 17 MPs, but since 39 of them are Conservatives the meeting, held to discuss future regional strategy (whatever that is) is likely to be abandoned. Shame really, since doorkeepers and clerks will have been dispatched from the House of Commons to preside.
The grand committee is chaired by LibDem MP Bob Russell, but the only other eastern region LibDem MP Norman Lamb has said he won't be turning up, describing the committee as "a sop designed to make people think the government is devolving power." So far, I have been unable to find a single Tory MP who intends going to Bedford on 8 September. There is no organised boycott, but perhaps there ought to be. Nothing can be achieved from these meetings and why on earth would an MP on the east coast travel to Bedford for the privilege of putting questions to Barbara Follett? No, I don't know, either.
The eastern region select committee has even more problems. One of its five Labour members (there are nine members altogether) was Ian Gibson and its chairman is the disgraced MP for Luton South, Margaret Moran.
One other point, I don't know where most of the other committees are meeting in early September, but I am sure it is just a coincidence that the eastern region committee and the south west committee are both holding their meetings in marginal Labour seats (Bedford and Exeter). Perhaps readers may be able to let me know where the others are being held.