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.

Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

English Teacher

£100 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education are curren...

Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuery, jQuery UI)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuer...

DT Technician

£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor