It is unusual for Hugo Swire to take such an active interest in constituency business (see below). Is the NHS becoming an “issue” so soon after the election in which we, the electorate, voted on the basis that it was safe in Tory hands?

“MP for hub talks
Journal 25 February 2016

“East Devon MP Hugo Swire says he is “deeply frustrated” by delays to the reopening of Budleigh Salterton Hospital.

The hospital, closed since last summer, had been due to reopen five months ago as a health and wellbeing hub, but this has been delayed due to an ownership dispute, with NHS Property Services said to be needing to generate a commercial rent for the building.

Mr Swire said: “I have always been a keen supporter of this project. Like many of my constituents in Budleigh and the wider area, I am deeply frustrated by this delay. It is my plan to set up a round table meeting with all of the stakeholders involved in this project in an effort to find a solution to this particular problem. I have already invited the Health Minister, Lord Prior* and hopefully he will be able to attend.”

*Lord Prior’s real title is: “Parliamentary Under-Secretaty of State for NHS Productivity” and he sits in the House of Lords, not the House of Commons. He formerly worked for Lehman Brothers as an investment banker.

“In April 2014 he [Lord Prior] had a hip replacement operation paid for by private insurance but was treated in a public ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust.”

A couple of questions:

Will “stakeholders” include users and potential users of the hospital?

And don’t forget, everyone, Swire will not be able to bring the matter up in Parliament because he is a Minister.

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  1. Everyone says that Ministers cannot act as MPs, and Hugo himself has used the Ministerial Code ( ) as the justification in press editorials he has written. HOWEVER…

    I have read the code of conduct and as far as I can see, for topics which are NOT subject to Cabinet discussion (where they are expected to follow the line decided by the cabinet majority) Ministers CAN speak as an individual MP providing that they make it clear that this they are speaking as an MP rather than a Minister.

    If this is the case, then it seems to be Hugo’s personal choice not to speak on behalf of his constituents.

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