Schools minister refuses to answer grammar question after ‘bitter experience’

Schools minister steers clear of question about the sentence: ‘My baby was born in hospital, in the hospital where my father works’

The schools minister declined to answer a grammar question after being quizzed in the House of Commons.

Nick Gibb told MPs he had “learned through bitter experience not to respond to that kind of provocation” after being questioned by Labour MP Helen Goodman.

Mr Gibb became subject to a media storm last week after he apparently failed to differentiate between a preposition and a subordinating conjunction while appearing on BBC Radio 4’s World At One.

Asking a question following Mr Gibb’s statement on leaks of key stage 2 Sats tests today, Ms Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “I want to give the minister a second chance. In the sentence ‘my baby was born in hospital, in the hospital where my father works’, are the words ‘where my father works’ a preposition phrase, a relative clause, a main clause or a noun phrase?”

To laughter on the Labour benches, Mr Gibb responded: “Well it’s a very clever, clever question she asks, but I have learned through bitter experience not to respond to that kind of provocation.”

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