Andrew Lansley has apologised for his remarks
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has apologised for remarks he made saying a recession could be "good for us" in many ways.
The comments, published on Mr Lansley's blog, were made in the context of the likely impact of a recession on health issues such as drinking and smoking.
The remarks come amid a war of words over Labour's tax and borrowing plans.
The Tories said Alistair Darling took a "reckless" gamble with the UK's finances in his pre-Budget report.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the country faced "huge risks" and a "trillion-pound" public debt.
The government says many people will gain from next week's VAT cut, which it hopes will boost spending, with Mr Darling telling the BBC he was not prepared simply to "let the recession take its course".
Mr Lansley's comments came in a blog entry about public and mental health issues.
He said: "Interestingly on many counts, recession can be good for us. People tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, eat less rich food and spend time at home with their families."
Mr Lansley later removed the comments and said: "I am very sorry for any offence this has caused and I totally withdraw my comments."
'Out of touch'
Fellow Conservative MP Kenneth Clarke said he was not aware of what Mr Lansley had said but told the BBC that "this recession is not going to be good for anybody".
Labour said the remarks showed the opposition was "out of touch".
"There is a clear choice for the British people," said James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
"Labour's approach will give real help now for families and businesses to help Britain come through these difficult times stronger and sooner. The Conservatives would sit back and watch as the recession became longer and deeper."