In addition to business in the House, I chaired a number of Cabinet Committee meetings and also participated in Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings chaired by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I also had a number of meetings with ministerial colleagues and officials. As has been the practice of successive administrations, information relating to internal meetings, including the proceedings of Cabinet and its committees, is generally not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, I travelled to Bulgaria and Romania and met the Presidents and Prime Ministers of both countries to congratulate them on their accession to the European Union, as well as holding a range of meetings with other senior ministers and politicians on issues of mutual concern.
I attended a reception hosted by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Downing street to launch the Government’s plans for the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Prior to this, I met the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) and the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce) to discuss arrangements for the bicentenary. I held a working lunch with chief executives and representatives of key local authorities to discuss the commemorations being planned around the country. I also chaired a meeting with the high commissioners and ambassadors of a number of Caribbean and African countries to discuss the international aspects of this anniversary year.
Also in January, I gave a speech on the future of local government at the New Local Government Network conference and addressed the Opportunity Age Strategy Partnership Group on the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society.
I hosted a reception for the Indonesian-UK Islamic Advisory Group, which was established by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to bring together Islamic representatives from both countries to advise on countering radicalism and promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between Islam and the West.
I also chaired a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss the UK contribution to the Shanghai Expo and hosted a meeting for the chairs of the Regional Development Agencies.