Lewisham MP denies “champagne lifestyle”

Joan Ruddock. Photo: Department for Energy and Climate Change @flickr

A Labour MP has complained about an “offensive and rude” accusation that she leads a “champagne lifestyle” during a House of Commons debate.

Joan Ruddock, Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, took offence to the remark made by Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary.

During a Commons debate, Ms Ruddock said jobs were under threat due to Lewisham Council’s budget cuts of £16m, and Mr Pickles responded by saying the Council had almost £60m in reserve.

He said: “It might not be for the right hon. Lady, I know she lives a champagne lifestyle, but £60m is a lot of money.”

Ms Ruddock responded to the comment in a point of order with Speaker John Bercow, in which she said: “I think you will know that I have been in this House long enough to take the rough and tumble of Parliamentary debate but the Secretary of State today, in response to an intervention I made, made a remark about ‘the hon. Lady’s champagne lifestyle’.

“It appeared to be directed at me. I find that really offensive and rude.”

She also asked whether she could expect the remark to be withdrawn.

The Speaker said: “Good temper and moderation in the use of parliamentary language are always to be encouraged.

“I travelled to a number of places around the world with you and colleagues and I cannot recall you consuming champagne at any stage”.

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