DAVID Cameron has been criticised for appointing a ‘Minister for Portsmouth’ after refusing similar special help for the North-East.

Nick Brown, who was Labour’s Minister for the North-East, argued the region was missing out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But the Prime Minister said: “The Government has no intention of returning to the old administration’s system of individual minsters representing the old administrative regions.”

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Former Darlington MP Michael Fallon, now a Business Minister, has been made ‘Minister for Portsmouth’ to help the city recover from the loss of 1,000 shipbuilding jobs.

But Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable branded the idea tokenism and claimed he was the “real minister for Portsmouth”.

Mr Brown, the Newcastle East MP, said: “There is clearly an economic development issue in Portsmouth. It is the right thing for Portsmouth given its situation.

“It is also the right thing to do for the North-East. The Government should reconsider the case for doing the same thing for the North-East.”

In Opposition, Mr Cameron pledged to appoint city ministers but he has appointed only Middlesbrough-born Greg Clark to look after all England’s major cities.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said having ministers for regions had worked in some areas but not others and asked that the Government be judged by its record, which he said was more jobs in every region.

The Northern Echo:

The Question Time Panel in Durham tonight

Speaking ahead of appearing on the BBC’s Question Time which was filmed at Durham’s Gala Theatre tonight (Thursday, January 16), he also claimed many North-Easterners were “very natural Conservative voters”.

“If we can cement this recovery, ordinary families will feel the benefits. There are many parts of the North-East where people will be looking to the Conservatives.

“I meet people who are industrious, working hard.

“They may not think of themselves in this way but they are people who work hard, play by the rules, want to get on in life – I see those people as being very natural Conservative voters,” he said.

Also on the Question Time panel were Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh, Lib Dems president Tim Farron, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer.