Angela Rayner demands apology from Jeremy Hunt over Ministerial breach


Angela Rayner MP is demanding a public apology from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for breaching the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

It follows an official visit by Mr Hunt to Tameside General Hospital, which the Minister failed to notify in advance to Mrs Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne.

The MP says Mr Hunt failed to notify her of the visit to avoid hearing about the crisis facing the NHS under his Government.

The Ministerial Code of Conduct clearly states, paragraph 10.9:

"Ministers intending to make a visit within the United Kingdom must inform in advance the MPs whose constituencies are to be included in the itinerary."

Mr Hunt breached the Code by failing to notify Mrs Rayner of his visit to Tameside on Friday 26th June.

It was only when she received an email from Karen James, the chief executive of the Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at 17.01 on Friday 26th June, that the MP was made aware that Mr Hunt had already visited her constituency.

Mrs Rayner raised the matter with the Speaker of the House of Commons on Monday 29th June, who confirmed that she should have been notified in advance of the visit by Mr Hunt.

However, Mrs Rayner has still had no communication from the Secretary of State - and is now demanding that he comes to the House of Commons to apologise for his breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

She has written to the Prime Minister highlighting the breach of the Code by a Government Minister.

Mrs Rayner said: "The Secretary of State stole into my constituency like a thief in the night, without so much as a by-your-leave.

"He failed to notify me in advance of his visit, even though it was clearly planned at least a week in advance.

"Nor has he had the decency to apologise or explain why it was such a hush-hush visit, even after I raised it on the floor of the House of Commons.

"I want to see him stand at the despatch box and explain to me exactly why he did not feel able to observe the common courtesies of notifying me as the MP of an official visit to my constituency."

She added: "This is not some obscure procedural point. The Secretary of State has breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which is an extremely serious matter. It shows a disrespect and contempt for Parliament and for democracy.

"If I had been notified of his visit, I would have taken the opportunity to tell him about the lengthening waiting lists that patients are experiencing as a result of of his Government's cuts.

"I would have made sure that he heard both from patients and staff - not hand-picked officials -about the pressures Government policy is piling on our NHS.

"I would also have raised with him the serious concerns that many of us have about the future of Tameside General hospital as part of the forthcoming 'Healthier Together' proposals for Greater Manchester.

"But it seems he just did not want to know about the very real issues facing patients and staff seeking decent health care in Tameside."

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