All MPs should be banned from the Commons bar to prevent sexual harassment in Westminster going any further, a Labour MP has proposed. His suggestion comes as Tory MPs were handed a new code of conduct calling on them to act with “probity.”
Writing for the LabourList blog, MP for Bassetlaw John Marr set out his list of proposals for Parliament to “clean up its act” as the Westminster sexual harassment scandal widens. As allegations of sexual harassment by MPs crop up left, right and center, Marr said: “MPs should not be allowed to use the Sports and Social bar in parliament.”
He also called for anyone found guilty of misdeeds to “have the whip withdrawn” – meaning suspended – and to be forbidden from standing as parliamentary candidates in elections and party membership. “We in the Labour Party have always been the party at the forefront of speaking out and standing up against abuses of power. It’s on us to take the lead once again,” the Labour MP said.
“We’ve all known for too long that there are people in this place who are best avoided. But now it is clear that abuse and harassment in parliament have been widespread, that perpetrators have not been punished, accusations swept under the carpet and victims have been let down.” Marr also said allegations must never be hushed up or used as a means to win votes.
It comes as the Conservative Party released a new code of conduct for its MPs, which gives bullet points on the standards members are expected to meet, including integrity, openness and honesty. The code lays out plans for the establishment of a hotline for victims to report abuse, as well as an improved strategy to investigate allegations by a panel.
In a letter to Commons Speaker John Bercow, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government and her party believe there should be “a common, transparent, independent grievance procedure for all those working in Parliament who wish to raise concerns which provides clarity and certainty about how their concerns will be dealt with, and the support they will receive.”