In what's thought to be a first, North East MPs will be given regular meetings with the Cities Minister Greg Clark in lieu of the region having no other representation in government.
Currently, no cabinet members (apart from William Hague in North Yorkshire) are from the North East, with the role of Regional Minister for the North East being abolished under the coalition government.
But today several Labour MPs from our region met with Mr Clark to discuss having meetings every 6 - 8 weeks, which he is said to have agreed to.
The invitation will also be open to the Tory MPs in Hexam and Stockton South, as well as the Lib Dems in Redcar and Berwick. It's thought the primary focus of the meetings will be the economy of the North East.
MPs were recalled to Parliament yesterday to vote on whether the British military should intervene in the crisis in Syria.
The vote went against the government by a majority of 285 to 272.
The following MPs voted with the government:
- James Wharton, Conservative, Stockton South
- Guy Opperman, Conservative, Hexham
The following MPs voted against the government proposal, rejecting the idea of military intervention in Syria.
- Catherine McKinnell, Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne North
- Tom Blenkinsop, Labour, Middlesbrough South
- Ian Mearns, Labour, Gateshead
- Mary Glindon, Labour, North Tyneside
- Ian Swales, Liberal Democrats, Redcar
- Bridget Phillipson, Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South
- Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley
- Pat Glass, Labour, North West Durham
- Julie Elliott, Labour, Sunderland Central
- Chi Onwurah, Labour, Newcastle Central
- Ian Lavery, Labour, Wansbeck
- Jenny Chapman, Labour, Darlington
MPs from our region are debating a government motion which could pave the way for military action in Syria.
The Prime Minister told them this afternoon he is convinced the Syrian regime was behind the use of chemical weapons, including an attack which killed hundreds of people in Damascus last week.
Parliament will vote later tonight on whether to back intervention in principle, but not on direct British involvement, which would need a further vote.
Paul Brand sent this report from Westminster - watch it in full below.
The House of Commons is packed by MPs as the debate about Syria action begins.
MPs from across the region have been called back to Parliament, during their summer break, to take part in a debate later today.
They will be deciding whether they think the country should intervene in the ongoing Syrian conflict, but will not authorise direct British involvement.
The Government has published its advice on military action in Syria, stating that the legal basis for any such action would be "humanitarian intervention".
It said "if action in the Security Council is blocked, the UK would still be permitted under international law to take exceptional measures".
Tomorrow's House of Commons vote will not authorise direct British involvement in military action against Syria, the government's motion for debate indicated tonight.
MPs have clashed over possible job losses in the fire service. A host of Labour MPs questioned ministers from the Department for Communities & Local Government. Teesside MP Alex Cunningham said Cleveland fire service has to deal with the highest industrial risk in Europe. 180 jobs are at risk there.
Labour Party members, councillors and MPs have paid tribute to former Stockton Borough Councillor Maurice Frankland who died last week.
Maurice worked as a councillor until just before his 80th birthday. He was one of the oldest people ever to be elected.
– Alex Cunningham MP
“I will miss the man who epitomised the role of a gentleman."
Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of the Council, said: “Maurice was in many ways an example to us all – he knew not just the community in Norton that he represented, but people across the Borough.”
Alex Cunningham MP said: “I will miss the man who epitomised the role of a gentleman who had a deep interest in how he, and the rest of us, could make life better for the most needy and vulnerable in our society."