CHRIS Grayling is to snub tonight's House of Commons debate on transport, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Junior transport minister Jesse Norman, only appointed in July, will reply on behalf of Mr Grayling's behalf, the Government has now confirmed.
The Hereford and South Herefordshire MP is a junior Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and has had little involvement in the North's transport issues.
Hull North MP Diana Johnson is leading the debate in which she hoped to cross-examine Mr Grayling about his backtracking over the upgrading of the Hull to Liverpool line and the limited powers being given to Transport for the North.
Labour MPs are furious at the apparent snub and hope the Government will think again. Much of the thrust of the debate was due to be on an article that Mr Grayling wrote for The Yorkshire Post in August when he challenged the North to sort out its own transport logjam.
Ministers are also under fire after Chancellor Philip Hammond chose not to respond to an urgent question on tax avoidance following disclosures in the so-called Paradise papers.
A Department for Transport spokesman confirmed Mr Norman will respond on the behalf of the Government.
He said: "The Secretary of State either has other engagements or his diary is too busy."