A Government minister has sparked a sexism row after branding Green MP Caroline Lucas “hysterical” in a debate over forests.

The member for Brighton Pavilion was asking Agriculture Minister Jim Paice for an update on the coalition's aborted forestry sell-off.

The Government performed a U-turn on its original plan to sell off woodland last year following a public backlash, although doubts remain over 15 per cent of the state’s forests.

Speaking during environment, food and rural affairs questions at Westminster yesterday, Ms Lucas said the Government was “deeply misguided” in its approach and called for an assurance none of the estate would be sold.

Mr Paice said Ms Lucas “always gets a bit hysterical”. He said the Government had no intention of selling off the public forest estate.

Next to quiz Mr Paice was Fiona O'Donnell, Labour’s shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister, who said: “I hope he can have a less sexist response this time.”

Labour’s former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw then tweeted: “Sexism alive and well in the Tory Party as Farming Minister calls Green MP Caroline Lucas ‘always hysterical’ at DEFRA questions.”

Last year David Cameron was criticised after urging Labour frontbencher Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” during Prime Minister's questions.

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