Health minister Ben Gummer accused of threatening Labour MP over NHS questions
- Credit: Archant
Health minister Ben Gummer has been accused of threatening a Labour deputy leadership contender over his questions about his local NHS trust.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said in a point of order the angry exchange had taken place just outside the House of Commons chamber earlier this week.
Speaker John Bercow said he was reluctant to intervene on a conversation between MPs which he had not been involved with and was outside the chamber, but said Mr Bradshaw had a “right” to raise questions about the NHS on his patch.
Mr Gummer was not present during the point of order and a Department for Health spokesman said he would not be speculating about the content of corridor conversations between members of the House.
“Ben Gummer has made it clear that he wishes to work with all Devon MPs in the spirit of the first meeting to ensure they get the best services for their constituents,” the spokesman said.
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Mr Bradshaw, who said he had notified Mr Gummer of his planned point of order, said: “Is it in order for a minister to threaten to exclude an MP from information and correspondence about his local NHS, bar me from access to senior NHS officials, and even threaten negative consequences for me and my constituents?
“All because I have been critical of the Government’s continuing failure to grip the unprecedented financial crisis facing Devon NHS.
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“This, Mr Speaker, was the essence of an encounter with Mr Gummer just outside this chamber last night.
“Would you please remind the minister he is accountable to this House, that it is the job of an MP to speak up on behalf of his or her constituents and such behaviour from a Minister of the Crown is completely intolerable?”
Mr Bercow replied: “I don’t want to be drawn, and I fear I cannot be drawn, into conversations between MPs to which I was not myself privy, including between MPs and ministers.
“What I will say is this. I’m sure Mr Gummer is well aware of his responsibilities and you will continue to be a doughty champion for your constituents.
“You have a right to be, you have a responsibility to be, and I’m sure you will be.”