MPs could be sacked for sexual harassment under tough new measures

Written by Kevin Schofield on 9 February 2018 in News

Tough new rules at Westminster could see MPs found guilty of abuse lose their seats

Houses of Parliament - Image credit: PA

MPs found guilty of sexual harassment could be kicked out of parliament under tough new measures aimed at stamping out abuse.

A new code of conduct will also be drawn up setting out the behaviour expected of parliamentarians and their staff.

Separate procedures, independent from the political parties, for dealing with accusations of sexual harassment and bullying are also being put in place following a review by a cross-party working group.

The inquiry was established following claims of widespread sexual harassment by at Westminster last year.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom headed up the probe, which has now published its findings.

The key recommendation will see parliamentary standards watchdogs given greater powers to order written apologies, mandatory training, future behaviour agreements, the dismissal of staff and, as a last resort, the recall of MPs.

That would spark a by-election in the MP's seat, leaving them at severe risk of being kicked out of parliament by voters.

Leadsom said: "This is a big day for parliament and our politics.

“The new independent procedure will demonstrate that we want to be the best parliament in the world when it comes to treating everyone who works here with dignity and respect.

“This is a major step in bringing about the culture change that Parliament needs."

Georgina Kester, who represented the Members and Peers’ Staff Association on the working group, said: "Having called for this action for many years, MAPSA welcomes and endorses the report
and the proposals contained within it, which will go a long way to combatting the bullying and harassment that staff have experienced.

"We look forward to staff being fully involved in the next stages of the rollout of the disciplinary processes, sanctions, training and support mechanisms."

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: "Labour welcomes the report as an important first step to putting procedures and safeguards in place to deal with bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in Westminster.

"When the working group formed, Labour called for the immediate establishment of an independent specialist adviser on sexual harassment.

“Although we would like this to have been put in place sooner, we are pleased it is included in the report and hope it will be implemented as quickly as possible."

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