What is the point of the regional ministers?

Rosie Winterton, a transport minister, was yesterday awarded the extra title of Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber – replacing Caroline Flint, the new housing minister.

Rosie_wintertonMeanwhile Phil Hope became minister for the East Midlands.

The news served as a reminder that Gordon Brown introduced numerous regional posts when he set up his first cabinet last summer. Others include Ben Bradshaw for the South-west. Are these purely symbolic roles?

The big idea was that there would be a regular Regions Question Time on the Commons floor. This would give more of a voice to those-outside-London after the failure of plans for elected regional assemblies, whose potential genesis was met with apathy in 2004.

But no one seems to have heard anything on this since July.