Eric Pickles and Ben Bradshaw
Ben Bradshaw made the comments about Eric Pickles during Prime Minister's Questions Getty

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles would not get surgery in some parts of the country because he is overweight, a Labour MP has suggested.

Ben Bradshaw made the comments during Prime Minister's Questions, where Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg took questions in David Cameron's absence.

"Under his government, if he now needed an operation in Devon, he would be denied it because he smokes as would the Communities Secretary – because of his size," the Exeter MP said.

Clegg labelled the remark, which was met with silence followed by mumblings from MPs, as "a bit harsh".

The comment comes after it was announced that smokers and morbidly overweight patients living in Devon would be denied routine surgery on the NHS.

Pickles spoke frankly about his weight and his plans to become healthier.

The Cabinet Minister has been on a diet since April and revealed that his body mass index (BMI) was 32, down from 35.

The 62-year-old told BBC Radio that the plan to deny overweight people surgery was "un-British."

"The NHS is in our DNA. The idea that you would say "You will not survive, you've had your chips, you are too fat, you smoke too much..." Pickles said.

He added: "I'm a biggish guy. Admittedly, there's an awful lot less of me than there was on April 16 when I started this process of losing weight."