The row over slashing the Library of Birmingham's opening hours has become personal after a former city council leader was accused of saddling the city with massive costs it cannot afford.

Lord Whitby, the Conservative former council leader who oversaw the project, built a library which cost £1 million a month just in interest payments, the House of Commons was told.

Labour MP for Edgbaston Gisela Stuart said he should personally seek out local businesses to help fund the service.

And speaking to MPs, she insisted he should have plenty of time because he has spoken only three times in the House of Lords since he became a member in 2013.

The MP was responding to comments from Lord Whitby, who has criticised the current Labour council's plans to reduce the library's opening times from 73 hours a week to just 40, alongside job cuts.

Some facilities, shows and exhibitions will also be cut and charges introduced for some services at the library which was opened by Malala Yousafzai in September 2013.

Lord Whitby, who was council leader from 2004 to 2012, said in an interview with the Post this week: "I am really saddened to see what is happening.

"It has been just over a year since it opened and now they are talking about huge cuts and good people losing their jobs.

"What sort of message does that send out to the wider world? What does it say about us as a city?

"We should be promoting ourselves. We are national leaders for business start-ups and foreign investment but instead our council leadership is talking about cuts and doom and gloom. They have got to be more imaginative."

He said there were two possible sources of funding and the council could find the £1.5 million shortfall within a £3.2 billion gross budget or do more to seek support from the private sector.

Lord Whitby added: "The private sector, the hotels, restaurants and so on, benefit from that through increased tourism. They would recognise the library's role in that."

Mrs Stuart told the Commons that Lord Whitby had built a library the city simply couldn't afford.

She said: "Lord Whitby built a magnificent library which will cost £1 million every month for the next 40 years before we even put in the first book or the first people of Birmingham go through the door.

"Interest payments on that library are costing us £1 million a month, which is more than the city of Birmingham spends in the entire year on traffic wardens outside our schools.

"In respect of his £188 million project, he said he was 'saddened' he city council was cutting the services and the hours. I am not just saddened, I am very disappointed.

"He says he is sad and he tells us through the newspapers he could find solutions to this by involving local business.

"As he does not seem to be overtaxed by making speeches in the other place, perhaps he would like to broker such agreements and talk to local businesses and bring them in."

Lord Whitby became a "working peer" in October 2013 and made his maiden speech in the Lords in November 2013.

He asked one question in July 2014 and made his second speech in January 22 this year.

Mrs Stuart also told MPs Birmingham City Council had faults which needed to be addressed.

She said: "I am also going to be frank now. Not all is well in Birmingham. We must acknowledge that."

Mrs Stuart urged the council to accept the findings of reviews such as the recent inquiry by Sir Bob Kerslake which had identified problems.

She told MPs: "The city must grasp that and say, 'This is our chance to come to terms with some of the problems of the past and put them right'."