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Nick will champion North's causes.

TYNESIDE MP Nick Brown yesterday pledged to be the region's "champion" in Whitehall after being appointed Minister for the North-East by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

A series of other ministers were also appointed to specifically represent the English regions for the first time, with Nick Brown combining his role with that of deputy chief whip.

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes will represent the North-West, Caroline Flint Yorkshire, Gillian Merron the East Midlands, Liam Byrne the West Midlands and Barbara Follett the East of England.

London and the South-East will be represented by new Olympics minister Tessa Jowell who will attend Cabinet.

Nick Brown said his job was to be the region's "champion" in Government, adding: "There are a number of issues that are of immense importance to the region - the employment skills base and the transport infrastructure.

"It is also vital that public services in the region are seen to be both efficient and transparent," said the MP for Newcastle East and Wallsend.

He added public money had to be spent effectively and looked forward to working with regional development agency One NorthEast and the Government Office for the North-East.

Mr Brown - a long-standing ally of the new premier - will also advise the newly created Secretary of State for Business on regional strategies and appointments to the development agency.

His appointment was welcomed by MPs as well as business and development chiefs in the North-East.

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said it was "great" news and that Mr Brown would get support of colleagues in fighting for the region.

He added it would be fine if Tessa Jowell promoted the Olympics in the Cabinet, but expressed concern about her putting forward London and the South-East. "If there is a need for that, lets have places for other ministers," said Mr Anderson.

Peter Atkinson, Tory MP for Hexham, said: "It is good news that we have a minister who is going to focus on the region. I think it is a good move as he is a close colleague of the new Prime Minister."

But Tory Party chairman Francis Maude questioned why such an appointment had not been made earlier, with his party having already made trade spokesman Alan Duncan shadow minister for Tyneside nearly a year ago. He also revealed that shadow ministers for Wearside and Teesside will soon be announced.

But Labour MP Sharon Hodgson said Mr Brown knew the region's strengths and weaknesses, adding she would add to his in tray with suggestions to boost the region and stress the need for the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

"One immediate priority for Nick and also the new housing minister Yvette Cooper must be increasing affordable housing for all," added the MP for Gateshead East and Washington West.

Ross Smith, from the North East Chamber of Commerce, said he hoped the appointment signalled the Government would pay serious attention to particular regional needs and looked forward to an early meeting.

One NorthEast chairman Margaret Fay welcomed the appointment, saying it had been calling for a direct democratic link between the delivery of regional policy and central Government.

Brown's new cabinet

Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service: Gordon Brown.

Chancellor of the Exchequer: Alistair Darling.

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs: David Miliband.

Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor: Jack Straw.

Secretary of State for the Home Department: Jacqui Smith.

Secretary of State for Defence, and Secretary of State for Scotland: Des

Browne.

Secretary of State for Health: Alan Johnson.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Hilary Benn.

Secretary of State for International Development: Douglas Alexander.

Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform: John Hutton.

Leader of the House of Commons (and Lord Privy Seal), Minister for Women, and Labour Party Chair: Harriet Harman.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and Secretary of State for Wales: Peter Hain.

Secretary of State for Transport: Ruth Kely.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: Hazel Blears.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and Chief Whip: Geoff Hoon.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families: Ed Balls.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Ed

Miliband.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: James Purnell.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland:

Shaun Woodward.

Leader of the House of Lords (and Lord President of the Council): Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Andy Burnham.

Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills: John Denham.

The following ministers will also attend the Cabinet:

Cabinet Minister for the Olympics and London: Tessa Jowell.

Minister for Children and Youth Justice: Beverley Hughes.

Lords Chief Whip and Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms: Lord Grocott.

Attorney General: Baroness Scotland of Asthal.

Minister for Housing: Yvette Cooper.

Minister for Africa, Asia and UN: Lord Malloch Brown.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister: Ian Austin, Angela Smith.

CAPTION(S):

FIRST MEETING: From left, Ruth Kelly, Des Browne, Sir Gus O'Donnell, Gordon Brown, Jack Straw, Hilary Benn, John Hutton, Hazel Blears and James Purnell at the first meeting of Mr Brown's new Cabinet.; ADDED PORTFOLIO: Newly appointed Secretary of State For Scotland, Des Browne.; FIRST WOMAN IN POST: Home Secretary Jacqui Smith leaves No 10 Downing Street.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 29, 2007
Words:882
Previous Article:Shields MP takes another step up political ladder; DAVID MILIBAND.
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