North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson has been branded the “Invisible Minister” following a lack of public appearances after the recent floods.
A cabinet source reportedly told the Sunday Mirror that Downing Street has kept the Floods Minister away from national TV and radio interviews because senior figures lack confidence in Lib Dem MP.
However, that accusation has been categorically denied by both Mr Rogerson and Number 10.
The source told the national paper: “When it comes to floods, Dan is the Invisible Man and the Invisible Minister. That’s the way Number Ten wants it.”
“The view in Downing Street is that he’s not up to the job of handling a major crisis. It’s harsh, but he just doesn’t command their confidence.”
In October 2013 Mr Rogerson was appointed Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) with responsibility for water, forestry, resource management and rural affairs.
According to Defra’s website, Mr Rogerson has made just two announcements this year.
On January 9, he spoke about plans to plant four million trees next year. On February 6, he issued a press release confirming Mr Cameron’s pledge for more flood defences.
Mr Rogerson said since being appointed as an Environment Minister, he had spent the last few months, including over Christmas and New Year, dealing with the response to the unprecedented flooding that many parts of the country have experienced.
"The Sunday Mirror’s criticism seems to be that I haven’t been appearing on national television enough, but I have been too busy getting on with my job of managing the response to the floods, as well as continuing to represent and work with people in North Cornwall on a range of issues affecting our area," said Mr Rogerson.
"Getting help and assistance to those families who need it is more important than focusing on my own media profile.
"I have been attending the government’s emergency COBRA meetings throughout and whilst the Secretary of State Owen Paterson has been away from his job due to illness I have been leading the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ response, including at Environment Questions in the House of Commons last Thursday. I am also chairing the group looking at a longer term response to the problems on the Somerset Levels.
"I have visited flood hit areas and communities in areas such as Devon, Dorset, Somerset and the Thames Valley, and locally I have visited communities including Looe, Porthleven and Newquay, and will be visiting affected communities in North Cornwall this week."
A Number 10 spokesman added: "Mr Rogerson has been absolutely pivotal in helping coordinate the Government’s flood response, playing a vital role for many months.
“He remains one of the most active ministers in Government, making sure everything possible is being done to assist affected communities on the ground.”