Dear Mr. Speaker,
Main chamber adjournment debate, Monday 20th October: ‘Future of the West Cumberland Hospital’
Sir Tony Cunningham has secured the above debate.
I have worked for and campaigned on behalf of the West Cumberland Hospital for over a decade now. The hospital is the only District General Hospital in my constituency, I was born there, my four children were born there and it has saved my life twice whilst serving as a Member of Parliament.
Sir Tony is happy for me to contribute to this debate. As an Opposition frontbench spokesperson, my office contacted yours last week to seek advice regarding the protocol for frontbenchers speaking in debates such as this. The advice given was that the responding government minister would have to give permission for me to speak in this debate. The responding government minister is Dan Poulter. Permission to speak in this debate was repeatedly sought by my office from the minister’s office last week, only for the minister’s office to respond on Friday last week, refusing to grant permission.
Given the nature of my constituency interest and the overwhelming importance of this issue to my constituents, it is surely absurd that I should be denied permission to speak in this debate.
At a time when the public is increasingly disenchanted with politics and the political process, such a myopic decision only serves to further damage the reputation of Parliament – we should all regret this.
My request is twofold:
Is there any way in which your office could persuade the minister that it is in the best interests of Parliament and my constituents that I am allowed to speak in this debate?
Secondly, should it be found necessary, how can the Standing Orders of the House be changed to ensure that no other Member of Parliament is ever subjected to such a ridiculous situation?
I look forward to your response.
With sincere best wishes,
Member of Parliament for Copeland
Shadow Health Minister