BOURNEMOUTH East MP Tobias Ellwood was involved in a feisty exchange with shadow chancellor Ed Balls over the level of youth unemployment in his constituency.

Mr Ellwood was accused of getting his facts wrong by Mr Balls and was labelled an “idiot” by Labour MP Ian Austin – an insult he was ordered to apologise for.

The row in the House of Commons on Thursday started after Mr Balls said youth unemployment had increased by 700 per cent since 2010 but Mr Ellwood claimed this was because the statistics included students at “the three universities in Bournemouth”.

Mr Balls said: “I am afraid that the honourable gentleman got that wrong last time and he is wrong again. I am referring to jobseekers’ allowance – the claimant count – and students are excluded from the figures.

“I must say that it is excusable to make that mistake once, but having done it twice, his chances of getting on to the front bench are severely diminished.”

Mr Austin, MP for Dudley North, asked Mr Balls: “Does he not find it extraordinary that all government members can do is to read out handouts from the Whips and the idiot from Bournemouth cannot even get that right.”