A Midland MP and Government Minister has been accused of " potentially" breaking parliamentary rules by using free postage to publicise her campaign against cuts at a local hospital.
Jacqui Smith (Lab Redditch), Minister for Schools, was accused of using the free Commons postal service to write to her constituents.
The letters, on official Commons notepaper, were about proposals to downgrade the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire, by transferring a range of services to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Ms Smith has campaigned against the cut-backs, and has organised a public meeting to be held tonight in the town.
In the Commons yesterday, her fellow Worcestershire MP Julie Kirkbride ( Con Bromsgrove) asked the Speaker: "I would be grateful if you could offer me some guidance as to how we go about ensuring that honourable Members and right honourable Members do not abuse their parliamentary allowances, with regard to the free postage which MPs are allowed. I've given notice to my neighbour, the Member for Redditch, that I was going to raise the issue of her use and potential abuse of the free House of Commons postage in her constituency."
The speaker, Michael Martin, interrupted and said any concerns Ms Kirkbride might have should be bought to the attention of the Serjeant at Arms, a senior House of Commons official.
Speaking outside the Commons, Ms Kirkbride said: "MPs are only supposed to use the free postal system for replying to constituents who have written to us."
In a statement, Ms Smith said: "I wrote out as the local MP, inviting concerned constituents to a public meeting."
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Alexandra, has unveiled proposals to save up to £27 million by transferring A&E, emergency surgical services, cancer surgery and critical care to Worcester.
Ms Smith has argued there would be no need for cutbacks if the trust was run more efficiently, and pointed out that funding across the NHS has shot up under Labour.
But Conservatives claimed the cuts were a result serious financial problems at another hospital run by the trust, the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester.
This cost £95 million and was built under the Private Finance Initiative ( PFI) scheme. Tories said the Government put pressure on the trust to sign the PFI contract quickly, so that it agreed to pay too much.