HC Deb 02 February 2000 vol 343 cc1043-4 3.31 pm
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. May I refer you to yesterday's Hansard, where the Secretary of State for Health said: The GMC must genuinely exist to protect patients. It must be truly accountable and it must be guided at all times by the welfare and safety of patients."—[Official Report, 1 February 2000; Vol. 343, c. 908.] I have today been handed a file of documents that makes serious allegations about a private cosmetic surgeon, who practises at various clinics in the United Kingdom. The former patients and other surgeons who made the allegations consider it an absolute scandal that he is still operating. He has even been described as a psychopath by another doctor. The General Medical Council has received many complaints about him, yet he continues to operate.

I have not named that surgeon today, but I shall have no hesitation in doing so in a week's time unless I hear something that dissuades me. Can we expect a further statement from the Secretary of State for Health about how he intends to ensure that patients are protected against cowboy operators in cosmetic surgery?

Madam Speaker

I have not been informed by the Secretary of State that he seeks to make a further statement. I understand what the hon. Lady said about her desire to raise the issue again if no statement is forthcoming. She is a long-standing Member of the House, and I am sure that she knows her way around and is aware of how to proceed in the matter.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You have already ruled once this year on the length of Ministers' answers. Today, I had Question 7 on the Order Paper, and I reasonably expected that I would have a chance to ask it. However, the Minister responsible chose to filibuster to prevent the issue of the anti-drugs co-ordinator being raised because he knows very well that the anti-drugs co-ordinator has been the victim of a whispering campaign by the Government, notwithstanding the fact that he receives—

Madam Speaker

Order. What is the problem for me?

Mr. Chope

In my submission, Madam Speaker, this is a serious problem for you. Your responsibility, which you uphold, is to protect the rights of Back Benchers. Is it not reasonable to expect more than six Back-Bench questions to be asked in half an hour?

Madam Speaker

There were more Back-Bench questions, because supplementary questions were asked, but I certainly accept the spirit of the hon. Gentleman's comments. I am disappointed daily by how few questions on the Order Paper are reached—largely because of the number of questions that individual Back Benchers ask and the very long answers that Ministers often give. It appears that I make such a statement every week. I hope that Ministers on the Treasury Bench will heed my words and that the message will go throughout the House to Back Benchers of all parties and to all Departments, wherever they may be throughout London. Thank you very much for raising the matter, Mr. Chope.