Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was accused today of surrendering her department's influence in Government.
Shadow environment secretary Hilary Benn claimed the fact that Meriden MP Mrs Spelman was not listed as a member of key Cabinet committees was evidence that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had lost sway on Whitehall.
Mrs Spelman rejected the accusations, saying she had attended the Cabinet committee meetings.
During Commons Question Time, Mr Benn said: "Given that Defra is an economic department with very big European responsibilities, isn't it astonishing that you are not listed as being a member of either of the Cabinet committees responsible for Europe or economic affairs - whereas the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) is a member of both, and what's more appears to be making waste policy.
"Why have you allowed Defra's influence to be downgraded in this way, and how can the department be at the heart of government when you aren't even on the main committees?"
Mrs Spelman replied: "I'm very happy to inform you that I have attended every single one of the economic affairs Cabinet committees, and the structure of the Cabinet committee is about to be changed so there will be a sub-committee of the departments that specifically have the most dealing with Europe - which, of course, Defra, with 80% of its business determined at an EU level, is precisely one."