A war of words has broken out between two Midland MPs in a row over use of the free parliamentary postal service.
Jacqui Smith, MP for Redditch and a leading Blairite minister, has accused the Conservative MP representing a neighbouring constituency of playing politics over the fate of a local hospital.
But Ms Smith faces an inquiry into claims she broke Parliamentary rules, by using free postage in a campaign against cuts at the Alexander Hospital in her constituency.
Ms Smith yesterday met the Serjeant at Arms, a senior House of Commons official, to promise she will co-operate with investigations into her spending.
The dispute focuses on letters sent by Ms Smith about proposals to downgrade the Alexandra Hospital in her constituency by transferring a range of services to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
House of Commons rules state that MPs can only use free postage to reply to constituents who have written to them.
The plans have sparked fierce opposition in the area and 19,000 people have signed a petition condemning the proposals.
The hospital also treats residents from the neighbouring constituency of Bromsgrove, represented by Conservative Julie Kirkbride, and both MPs have campaigned against the proposals.
But they clashed over the letters, sent by Ms Smith to publicise a public meeting.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Kirkbride complained about "her use and potential abuse of the free House of Commons postage in her constituency." Ms Smith responded by writing to Ms Kirkbride: " I have been extremely disappointed that you have decided to try and stop me writing to my constituents about the closure of hospital services in Redditch and Bromsgrove instead of working out how we can work together to oppose cuts.
"The question is not why I am writing to concerned constituents about this matter, but why aren't you?"
She said Ms Kirkbride had concentrated on attacking the Government instead of saving the hospital, but this was "not good enough" for Redditch residents. "They need your efforts concentrated on where the decision will be made not on trying to score party political points."
Ms Kirkbride wrote back saying: "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear."
She added: "It seems to me that Labour put out a press release congratulating itself for its management of the health service at every turn.
"It should therefore be no surprise to you that when things go wrong you might also be expected to shoulder some of the blame."
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.
More than 300 people attended the meeting in Redditch Town Hall last week.
At the meeting, John Rostill, the Trust's Chief Executive, and chairman Michael O'Riordan explained that they needed to save £20 million a year.