MPs accused over 'drink culture'

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Indy Politics

Those late-night sessions that used to be a feature of life in the House of Commons must never be reinstated because they encourage a "drink culture", a senior MP has warned.

Those late-night sessions that used to be a feature of life in the House of Commons must never be reinstated because they encourage a "drink culture", a senior MP has warned.

Barry Sheerman, who chaired the Commons education committee in the last Parliament, has made a formal complaint to the Speaker about the way Tory MPs disrupted a speech last week by the 37-year-old Secretary of State for Education, Ruth Kelly.

He claims that the disruption, just before 10pm on Tuesday, was carried out by MPs who had had a "good dinner" and were not in a fit state to drive themselves home.

Ms Kelly had to struggle to be heard over the constant noise of Tory MPs conducting conversations on the benches opposite. Several Tories also interrupted her with NHS questions, although Ms Kelly has never has been a health minister.

But Mr Sheerman's first attempt to register a formal complaint fell foul of a strict rule that MPs can never accuse their colleagues of being under the influence of drink.

Mr Sheerman told the Speaker: "There was an organised attempt to disrupt speeches."

He later told The Independent on Sunday: "I'm not saying that anyone was drunk. But you wouldn't have let them drive."

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