MPs to Be Banned From Parliament If Charged by Police, in Revised Plan


New government proposals come amid a national debate on tackling violence against women and girls.

Lawmakers under investigation for violent or sexual offences will be barred from the parliamentary estate if charged by the police, according to revised plans.

After discussions with MPs and stakeholders, in March the government brought forward a new motion for the approval by the House of Commons Commission.

Lawmakers will now consider whether a formal process for banning MPs from the parliamentary estate should be triggered at the point of charge rather than arrest.

“It will be for the House of Commons to decide whether to accept these proposals,” a Commons spokesperson said.

This is a revision of previous proposals published by the commission last year.

In December 2023, the commission set out a framework for an assessment to take place if serious allegations relating to a violent or sexual offence are brought to senior House officials. This would take place at the point of arrest.

Related Stories

Former Tory Whip Chris Pincher Resigns as MP Following Groping Suspension
Labour MP Has Whip Suspended After ‘Incredibly Serious’ Allegations

An assessment panel comprised of MPs would review the case and make the decision on the best way to mitigate risk, including exclusion from the parliamentary estate. The commission also suggested carrying out a review of the policy after six months.

MPs were expected to vote on these proposals, but no vote date had been announced by the Commons leader Penny Mordaunt. Instead a revised plan has been set out by the government.

‘Retrograde Step’

The decision to change the threshold for MP exclusion to the point of charge, rather than arrest, has triggered criticism by union leaders.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, warned that the move was “a massively retrograde step that will dismay all staff at Westminster.”

“The Commission and the Leader of the House have bottled it. We have repeatedly warned that every delay to implementing exclusion on arrest increased the likelihood of the proposals being watered down. We have, sadly, been proven correct,” said Mr. Clancy in a statement.

He called on lawmakers to reconsider the commission’s proposals.

“Workers in Parliament deserve to feel safe from credibly accused predators in their place of work. This would not be tolerated in any other workplace – it is to our shame that it is tolerated in the heart of our nation’s democracy,” Mr. Clancy added.

In his reaction to the Commons decision, Mr. Clancy recalled the “Angiolini” report, which was published last month. The 361-page document looked into how off-duty Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was able to abduct, rape, and murder Sarah Everard in 2021.

The report found that chances to stop Couzens were repeatedly ignored and missed.

Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer also brought up the failures of the police recorded by the Angiolini report during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier in March.

He told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the country “deserves to know that we are doing all we can to make our country safe for women.”

Highlighting the issue of a safe workplace for MPs, Sir Keir asked, “When will the prime minister make time for the vote on banning from Parliament those MPs who face allegations of sex offences?”

Under current rules, MPs cannot be excluded from the parliamentary estate by officials. Any agreements for MPs to stay away are voluntary.

Cases of MPs who have been asked to stay away from Parliament as a result of rape allegations have emerged in the last two years.

In October 2023, Crispin Blunt had the Conservative Party whip removed, after his arrest in connection with an allegation of rape. He was asked to keep away from Westminster and currently sits as an independent MP.

In 2022, another unnamed MP had also been asked to stay away from Parliament over rape allegations.

PA Media contributed to this report. 


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *