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Simon Burns's feud with the Speaker eases after good-humoured exchanges in the Commons

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 20 Last summer Health minister Simon Burns was widely reported to have made his view about Speaker Bercow clear in a particularly colourful way.

But yesterday at Health questions, after a Labour MP asked a question which did not seem to be in order, the following exchange took place:

Mr Burns: I am a bit confused, Mr Speaker, as the question is about MRSA and C. difficile, and I did not hear any specific question from the hon. Gentleman on that subject.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the Minister of State. My sense is that the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr Reed) is seeking a meeting. The Minister is perfectly at liberty to say more if he wishes, or if he does not think it is worth it, he does not have to do so.

Mr Burns: Mr Speaker, you are a wise owl to be able to interpret what Opposition Members are thinking but may not be saying. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns along the lines that he mentioned, I or one of my ministerial colleagues would be more than happy to meet him.

Mr Speaker: Wise owl is the kindest description that the hon. Gentleman has ever offered of me. I shall take it that he means it. It's the best I'll get.


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