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Parliament Approves Groundbreaking Exclusion Policy for MPs Arrested on Serious Charges Amid Safety Concerns



The House of Commons has passed a resolution that allows for the suspension of Members of Parliament at the time they are arrested for a serious crime, rather than waiting for formal charges. This decision by MPs, which aligns with a government proposal, comes in the wake of several troubling incidents involving parliamentarians and ongoing worries regarding the security of parliamentary staff.

Political correspondent @Journoamrogers

Monday, May 13, 2024, 11:

Under new proposals passed in a vote on Monday evening, Members of Parliament suspected of committing a grave offense could be prohibited from entering parliament.

This is in spite of the government's proposal suggesting that Members of Parliament should only be suspended if they are formally accused of a violent or sexual crime, setting a more stringent threshold.

On Monday evening, Members of Parliament decided to overturn efforts by the government to weaken protocols concerning "risk-based exclusions," maintaining that legislators should be barred from parliament immediately upon arrest for severe sexual or violent crimes, adhering to the initial advice from the House of Commons Commission.

The government adjusted the commission's original suggestion, increasing the criteria necessary for imposing a ban to a higher level of charge.

In an unexpected turn of events, Members of Parliament narrowly approved an amendment with a vote of 170 to 169, introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain and Labour MP Jess Phillips, aimed at restoring the initial purpose of the policy.

Members of Parliament were allowed to vote according to their personal views rather than following party directives.

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Further Details on Westminster Controversy

Charlotte Nichols has accused the Labour Party of 'gaslighting' her following her criticism of how the party managed allegations of sexual misconduct.

Legislators facing inquiries related to violent or sexual crimes might face prohibition from entering parliament.

Members of Parliament and employees urge the governing bodies of Parliament to quickly address the issue of harassment in Westminster.

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The voting record indicates that eight Tory members supported the opposition's amendment, among them safeguarding minister Laura Farris, ex-Prime Minister Theresa May, and backbench MP Theresa Villiers.

In 2021, Ms. Villiers faced a recommendation for a one-day suspension from the House of Commons. This action came after she, along with other members of the Conservative party, violated the code of conduct by attempting to sway a judge during the trial of ex-MP Charlie Elphicke. Elphicke, who was found guilty in 2020 of sexually assaulting two women, received a two-year prison sentence.

The outcome is that individuals detained for alleged violent or sexual crimes will be prohibited from entering parliament, subject to the endorsement of an autonomous committee.

Mike Clancy, the chief of Prospect union, described the result as a "significant and long-delayed triumph for rationality and the employees of the parliamentary estate." Additionally, FDA chief Dave Penman noted, "Parliament serves as a workplace for thousands, and these newly established formal procedures ensure a secure working environment that staff should anticipate, just as in any other workplace."

Ms. Phillips, a proponent of advocating for exclusion upon arrest, expressed her excitement on X, stating: "Wow! We secured the vote by a single margin."

During the discussions before the decision, she informed the House of Commons, "On this particular day alone, I have had conversations with two women who were sexually assaulted by parliamentarians; such days are quite typical for me.

"Choosing to only exclude individuals at the stage of charging communicates to victims that our involvement hinges not just on their reporting to law enforcement, but also on the suspect being formally charged—a scenario that unfolds in fewer than 1% of instances. 'Then why bother?' was pretty much the sentiment expressed by one victim I spoke with."

Suspected sexual harassers in the Commons have nowhere to hide

Lead political reporter

In a tense and closely contested decision, Members of Parliament have resolved that individuals suspected of sexual misconduct in the Commons should have nowhere to conceal their actions.

Ex-Prime Minister Theresa May was among a group of eight Conservative members who joined forces with opposition members to oppose Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt.

In a move that angered numerous MPs from the opposition, Ms. Mordaunt proposed that members of parliament accused of severe sexual or violent crimes should be prohibited from parliament only after they have been formally charged.

The vote was technically unrestricted. However, the majority of Members of Parliament who opted to postpone the ban until a fee was implemented were from the Conservative party, with numerous Cabinet ministers among them.

It was quite daring, especially with a general election looming. No doubt, the MPs who opposed the ban on arrest will face criticism from their political rivals during the campaign for being lenient on alleged sexual offenders.

The scheduling of the vote might have been inopportune, occurring as it did during a resurgence of controversy this week surrounding Charlie Elphicke, the ex-Conservative MP who was imprisoned for sexual offenses.

Over the weekend, Natalie, his former spouse who recently switched her allegiance from the Conservative to the Labour Party, faced allegations that she had attempted to influence former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland on his behalf. She quickly refuted these claims, labeling them as "nonsense."

Although she skipped the weekly gathering of the parliamentary Labour Party, Ms. Elphicke later joined her fellow members in voting for a prohibition that, had it been in effect earlier, would likely have impacted her former husband.

Following the decision, key advocates for the prohibition on arrests were both ecstatic and surprised by how narrow the voting margin was. “Incredible!” exclaimed Labour’s Stella Creasy in an interview with Sky News. Mr Rees-Mogg, on the other hand, criticized the measure, labeling it a “power grab.”

The vote is a landmark one, regardless of the margin. Those who brought allegations forward will say they feel safer now. Additionally, Members of Parliament who backed the stricter prohibition contend that it aligns the Commons with standard practices found in other work environments.

To a certain extent, that's accurate. Members of Parliament continue to enjoy numerous benefits and privileges that are not available to other employers and employees. Moreover, Parliament still faces significant challenges in modernizing its working practices and complaint processes.

The introduction of the exclusion policy came in response to several recent incidents involving Members of Parliament and growing concerns regarding the safety of parliamentary staff.

At present, it is up to party whips to determine whether and at what time a Member of Parliament facing accusations of misconduct should be barred from accessing the parliamentary grounds.

Under the proposed strategy, a risk evaluation will be conducted once the House Clerk is notified by law enforcement that a Member of Parliament has been detained on allegations of a violent or sexual crime.

The evaluation of risks will be conducted by a panel specifically tasked with risk assessment, which will be established by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt pointed to the high volume of frivolous complaints against peers as a justification for only barring members from the House after they have been formally charged.

Further Reading: Government officials have dropped proposals to make homelessness a criminal offense after facing significant public criticism. Additionally, the health secretary has admitted that he cannot assure there will be no more maternity care controversies in the wake of

During the discussion, ex-minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg criticized the exclusion proposals, calling them an "extraordinary power grab by standing orders to undermine a fundamental of our constitution." Meanwhile, Sir Michael Ellis, who previously served as attorney general, stated: "A person must not suffer imposition before guilt has been proven."

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