Health secretary Alan Johnson has rankled MPs by refusing to answer questions at a health select committee inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers.

Mr Johnson batted off a series of questions about junior doctors' training, saying he could not comment before the Department of Health's formal response to the Tooke report.

The final version of Sir John Tooke's review of the medical training reforms was published last month, but many of the recommendations were first made last October in an interim report.

The report criticised the leaders of Modernising Medical Careers and recommended the formation of an independent body to implement postgraduate training, called NHS Medical Education England: "NHS: MEE".

The DH is due to respond by the end of February, but Mr Johnson said some of the Tooke recommendations, including NHS: MEE, will not be dealt with until junior health minister Lord Darzi's next stage review is published in June.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said this was "pretty useless". Labour MP Jim Dowd told Mr Johnson: "It's not as if we've collared you in the corridor and asked you questions."

He responded: "You asked me to come. Expecting me to give a response to Tooke just in response to questions here does a disservice to Tooke's work. I don't accept that criticism."

The February response would deal with "most" of the issues raised by the Tooke report, he said.

The committee also asked what would happen if the DH's decision to prioritise UK graduates applying for training posts over non-EU doctors already working in this country was deemed illegal by law lords.

Mr Johnson said there were "other options" such as a "fees regime" and use of legislation.

New immigration rules issued two weeks ago mean doctors resident outside the European Economic Area can no longer apply for postgraduate medical training posts.

Mr Johnson said there was a moral obligation not to take on too many doctors from outside Europe. "We have denuded the world of graduates. We need the right policy for us and other countries."

He added: "The policy of self-sufficiency makes sense for usƒ it's the right way for us to go."

However, the Foreign Office has submitted written evidence to the committee saying the rules will strain relations between the UK and India, where many junior doctors in the NHS have traditionally come from.

The evidence states: "The implementation of measures to prevent access to specialist training in non-EEA doctors would not be welcomed by the Indian government or medical bodies.

"In recent years this issue has been top of their agenda in discussions on migration and restrictions on access would be very likely to create difficulties for our wider bilateral relationship."

Trade in pharmaceutical and medical devices could also be affected by the changes, it says.