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Cabinet Meeting (Durham)

Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 10th March 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons) 11:30 am, 10th March 2010

What the cost was of holding the Cabinet meeting in Durham on 18 February 2010.

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (London), Minister (Cabinet Office) (Also Minister for Olympics and Paymaster General)

The cost of the Cabinet meeting and the public engagement event was £67,473, excluding VAT. The Cabinet's visit to Durham on 18 February created an opportunity for a whole range of ministerial visits right across the region.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons)

There is a suspicion abroad that the whole range of ministerial visits may have had more to do with electioneering for the coming general election, having used public money to get up there. Will the Minister please tell the House-if she cannot do so now, will she put a full list in the public domain-what party political engagements each Cabinet Minister had when he or she went to Durham?

Photo of Tessa Jowell Tessa Jowell Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (London), Minister (Cabinet Office) (Also Minister for Olympics and Paymaster General)

It is absolutely reprehensible to undertake uninformed smear. The Cabinet's visit to Durham and the visits that the Cabinet has undertaken to other cities in England and Wales reflect the Government's determination to get out and about, not to be wholly based in London, and I want to make it absolutely clear that the conduct of the Cabinet visits and the ministerial meetings are fully subject to the ministerial code. If any party political campaigning is undertaken, the costs are met by the Labour party, which would be responsible. There is complete transparency, and the hon. Gentleman should not make such claims.