Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 14:01 UK

Cabinet 'may go to West Midlands'

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown and his colleagues will "listen and learn", a spokesman said

Gordon Brown will hold his first cabinet meeting after MPs' long summer break outside London - most likely in the West Midlands.

A Downing Street spokesman said the gathering was set for 8 September.

Ministers will also be taking part in a range of other events in the region on the day to give them an opportunity to "engage" with the public.

The spokesman said the move was part of the government's commitment to "listen and learn" from people's experiences.

Darling role

Cabinet meetings are normally held on a Tuesday morning in 10 Downing Street.

The spokesman said it was hoped that in future more would take place away from London.

He confirmed Chancellor Alistair Darling was taking over responsibility for coordinating government activity while Mr Brown continues his family holiday in Suffolk.

He replaces Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, who was the senior duty minister last week.

The spokesman said Mr Brown continued to remain "closely involved" with key issues.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, who has previously called for cabinet meetings to be held outside the "Westminster bubble", said: "We will be taking politics closer to the people and hearing their concerns first hand."

But shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling said the prime minister was simply following Conservative leader David Cameron, who has held shadow cabinet meetings outside London.

He said: "Gordon Brown doesn't have a single original idea in his head any more...

"This really is a government that has run out of steam; Britain needs change with an early general election."

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