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Points of Order

Volume 489: debated on Thursday 19 March 2009

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether you have been informed whether the Secretary of State for Health has given any indication that he will come to the House and make a statement about problems in the Royal London Hospital Trust about Dr. Iwegbu, who has been reported to the General Medical Council and against whom there are six interim orders, one of which states that he is not allowed to practise elective or trauma surgery on paediatric patients.

I do not want to involve myself in the GMC’s ruling when it is made, but it was brought to my attention this morning that this doctor has been calling himself a professor for some time. The trust has now decided to stop him doing so. An e-mail states that “discreet changes” should be “made throughout the Trust” so that no “embarrassment” is caused to the “Professor”.

The public, including patients, have seen the doctor in good faith in the belief that he was a professor in the medical profession. Surely it is not right for such information to be sneaked out in e-mails. I fear that a cover-up is taking place in the trust over the question of whether or not this gentleman is a professor in the medical profession, and I think that the Secretary of State should come here to explain what is going on.

That is not a matter in which I can intervene. It is clearly a matter for the Secretary of State.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you tell us how you can defend and enforce the conventions of the House? Yesterday a major debate on the economy took place, initiated by the Opposition. According to convention, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have responded to that debate. In answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth), the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been in the House on Monday and would be in the House again next week. It so happened, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was present during Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, and was also present—and voting—at 7 pm. So he was in the House yesterday, but was refusing to comply with the normal conventions by responding to a major debate initiated by the Opposition.

The Opposition have relatively few powers left to them in the House, but I should hope that one of them is the power to require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come to the Dispatch Box to respond to a debate.

When right hon. Members, and indeed hon. Members, come into the Chamber at one stage and again at a later stage, that does not mean that they are doing nothing. They are leading very hectic lives.

Let me say in defence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, in my experience, he is a regular attender at the House, and he does make statements. We must ensure that we do not criticise unfairly. I know that the hon. Gentleman does not want to do that.

It is up to Ministers to decide which Minister should take the lead in certain debates. Knowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer as I do, I do not think that he would do anything that would constitute any disrespect to the House.