Tories oust critic as chairman of health committee

ON THE DAY the Government published its latest White Paper on health, it sought to smother its most outspoken backbench critic.

Nicholas Winterton, the fiercely independent Tory MP for Macclesfield, was yesterday prevented from returning to his role as chairman and member of the health select committee. Tory whips had offered control of the committee to Labour as a way of blocking Mr Winterton's chairmanship. Labour refused, forcing Tory whips to publicly bar his nomination.

Mr Winterton has served on the committee and its predecessors for 18 years. He said of the decision to remove him, taken officially at a brief meeting of the Commons committee of selection yesterday afternoon but in practice dictated by Tory whips: 'It brings the whole select committee system into discredit.

'It isn't so much anger as deep sadness that here, in the mother of all Parliaments, democracy and freedom of speech seem to be on the way out. They want to muzzle free speech.'

Under Mr Winterton's chairmanship the committee, which replaced the former social services committee 18 months ago, produced a damning report of the Government's health service changes.

His ousting, not due to be officially announced until this morning, appears to be in direct contradition of the expressed views of the Prime Minister. In a letter sent in February last year during an earlier attack on his chairmanship, Mr Major said: 'I have no doubt that you will bring your skill, knowledge and commitment to that task and that you will do it excellently.'

The affair is unlikely to end with the events of yesterday since MPs must vote on the membership of all the select committees on Monday night. Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, will table an amendment deleting a member's name and substituting Mr Winterton's. He will be returning a favour done by Mr Winterton for him in the past, when Labour whips left him off the social services committee.

There may be more trouble to come. Yesterday's final carve-up of chairmanships of committees leaves Labour in charge of employment, national heritage, social security, trade and industry, Welsh and Scottish affairs.

Sir Anthony Grant, a former trade minister and senior member of the trade and industry, said of the whips' decision to give trade and industry to Labour: 'I maintain that we have been outmanoeuvred by the Labour people. Some of them look like the cat that got the canary.' Sir Anthony said the Tory majority on the committee might decide to vote on its own chairman.

While Labour will chair two more committees than in the last session and about 70 of its MPs will serve as members, a rise of about a dozen, there were sour grapes over the chairmanship by Gerald Kaufman of the 'fun' committee that will shadow the Department of National Heritage.

While Mr Kaufman, outgoing foreign affairs spokesman, is known for his love of art and culture, there were grumbles that this breaks a convention that frontbench MPs should not jump to chairmanships of committees.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Accounts Office Administrator

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidates will have ...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing boutique prac...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?