TORY ministers have been accused of failing to keep a promise to spend time working outside London – with one parliamentary secretary saying it was difficult to visit Scotland because it is “four-and-a-half hours on a train”.

A report from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) examined a commitment made by the UK Government to have a regular ministerial presence in new regional hubs and headquarters.

But it found a dedicated Cabinet meeting room in Queen Elizabeth House – the flagship UK Government office opened in Edinburgh in 2019 – “does not appear to have been used to host the Cabinet to date”, with the same situation in a hub opened in Cardiff.

The opening of the Cabinet Office’s second Scottish headquarters in Atlantic Square in Glasgow also came with the promise that “ministers will spend a significant amount of time in Scotland”.

But the PACAC report found between March 2021 and February 2021, ministers had visited on just five occasions totalling six days.

The list of those who made the trip north included Jacob Rees-Mogg, Heather Wheeler, Nadhim Zahawi, Jeremy Quin and Oliver Dowden.

Civil service unions told the committee that ministers were not working out of the regional hubs, with one saying: “The impression that I get is of people going around the office saying, ‘Thank you; aren’t you doing a good job?’ rather than actually working from the office.”

Meanwhile, in an appearance before the PACAC committee in March, Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Alex Burghart told MPs he had not been to the Glasgow headquarters since taking up his post in October 2022.

He said he had been able to visit the department’s regional office in Birmingham, but visiting Glasgow was “logistically more difficult”.

He said: “The practical challenges are fairly straightforward. It is four-and-a-half hours on a train to Glasgow. If you fly, there is a carbon element involved in that.

“For me as a minister, the limitation is mostly on time. I went to Birmingham the other day, and you are door to door, literally, in under two hours.”

The PACAC report concluded: “The Government has made high-profile commitments that ministers would spend significant working time in regional offices – though without clearly explaining what value this was meant to deliver.

“To date, ministers have not been able to meet this commitment, making flying visits rather than basing themselves outside London for significant amounts of time to conduct substantive work.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard MP said: “It will come as no surprise to voters that UK ministers have no interest in engaging with the people of Scotland.

“Ever since 2014, Westminster continues to offer Scotland the world – only to break their promise at the first opportunity.

“At the next election, only the SNP are offering voters a real alternative through independence – which would rid Scotland of Westminster governments it did not vote for once and for all.”

The Cabinet Office said Burghart and Minister of State Baroness Neville-Rolfe visited the Glasgow headquarters in June 2023 on separate occasions and that Dowden had also visited the office on three occasions between September 2022 and February 2023 in his capacity as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

It also confirmed Quin – the Minister for the Cabinet Office – had visited the Glasgow office but did not state when.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Places for Growth is helping level up the country by moving over 12,000 roles out of Greater London in its first three years, with government hubs expected to deliver millions of pounds of economic benefits for local areas through increased footfall and spending from staff.

“Ministers regularly visit regional hubs, including the Darlington Economic Campus and Glasgow’s 1 Atlantic Square.”