SCOTLAND’S first “dedicated Cabinet room” in the UK Government’s flagship Edinburgh hub has never been used to host a full meeting of ministers.

The facility in Queen Elizabeth House was hailed as the first of its kind outside London, allowing the UK Government Cabinet to meet in a purpose-built room for the first time.

Ahead of the opening of the building, then Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he looked forward to “inviting the Cabinet to meet in the building once it is open for business”.

The room was also mentioned in the UK Government’s Levelling Up white paper as part of plans for a “greater focus on local places”, while a UK Government hub in Cardiff was also highlighted in the same document as having the capacity to “host full Cabinet meetings”.

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However, following a Freedom of Information request from the Sunday National, the UK Government has admitted Cabinet has “not yet met” at either of these locations – and has only taken place outwith London on five occasions since 2017.

And figures published by the House of Commons Library show Regional Cabinets have only been held around two dozen times in the past century.

Eight of these were when David Cameron was Prime Minister, while nine happened under the premiership of Gordon Brown.

SNP MSP Collette Stevenson contrasted the failure of the Cabinet to meet in the specially built room in Queen Elizabeth House with the Scottish Government’s Travelling Cabinet, which has seen ministers meet in 52 locations across the country since its launch in 2008.

She said: "This is the latest in a never-ending list showing that Westminster simply doesn't work for Scotland.

"The contrast between an SNP Government which travels across Scotland listening to people about their priorities and a Tory government that never leaves Westminster couldn't be clearer.

"With independence, Scotland can be rid of Westminster governments for good – and the only way to make that happen is by voting SNP at the upcoming General Election."

The National:

Responding to the FOI request, the Cabinet Office said the Cabinet “has not yet met at either of the locations referenced in your request”.

It added: “However, in 2023 alone, the room in Queen Elizabeth House was used more than 160 times for a range of purposes, including ministerial meetings and engagement with external stakeholders.”

The response also stated the Cabinet Room at the UK Government Hub in Cardiff is used regularly for a range of different meetings “both at the ministerial and official level”.

Examples given include a Home Office drugs ministerial meeting attended by ministers from the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments and a trade reception hosted in the Cabinet room by the Secretary of State for Wales and attended by the ambassador to Turkey.

The response added: “Cabinet primarily meets in the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street.

“Cabinets outside of London can also take place, where the weekly Cabinet meeting is held in a location elsewhere in the UK.

“Cabinet meetings have been held elsewhere in the UK in 2017, 2018, 2020 and most recently in Bristol in 2021 and Stoke-on-Trent in 2022.

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“Queen Elizabeth House is the UK Government’s flagship building in Edinburgh providing a base for more than 25 UK Government departments which all have a key role in delivering even better services for people and businesses in Scotland.

“Moving to regional centres will save HMRC around £300 million cumulatively up to financial year 2025/26 before delivering annual cash savings of £74m in 2025/26 and rising to £90m in 2028/29.”

In July last year, Tory ministers were accused of failing to keep a promise to spend time working outside Scotland following a report from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC).

It examined a commitment made by the UK Government to have a regular ministerial presence in new regional hubs and headquarters – with one parliamentary secretary saying it was difficult to visit Scotland because it is “four-and-a-half hours on a train”.

In November, the Sunday National revealed the cost of running the UK Government’s flagship hub in Edinburgh was more than £11m annually, prompting accusations that a "monumental" amount of money is being wasted on a “PR stunt”.

Staff began moving into the seven-storey Queen Elizabeth House in 2020, which is managed by HM Revenue and Customs, and it was formally opened two years later by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.