Ministers condemn disgraceful behaviour in emergency Commons debate
LABOUR and the Conservatives claimed to be united in a pledge to stamp out sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament yesterday.
Labour MP Harriet Harman called for anonymity for those reporting such incidents.
She condemned Michael Gove and Neil Kinnock – without naming either – for joking on TV last week about sexual abuse with references to disgraced Hollywood filmmaker and sex pest Harvey Weinstein.
Ms Harman said during the emergency Commons debate: “No-one should have to work in the toxic atmosphere of sleazy, sexist or homophobic banter. “No MP, let alone a minister, should think it is something to make jokes about. This is not hysteria, this is something which is long overdue for all the parties in this House to deal with.”
Tory aides have compiled a spreadsheet obtained by right-wing Guido Fawkes website listing names of 36 Conservative MPs — including 20 ministers, two of whom are in the Cabinet — who have been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards staff.
Another list of 13 MPs facing harassment allegations has been circulating at Westminster, according to The Daily Telegraph.
And last week it was revealed that female parliamentary staff have been messaging on a WhatsApp group to warn each other against named senior Tory and Labour MPs.
Westminster needs an independent support team able to deal with allegations of sexual harassment or abuse against people working in Parliament within “days rather than weeks,” leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom told MPs.
International trade minister Mark Garnier is the subject of an internal inquiry by the Cabinet Office after admitting he called his secretary “sugar tits” and asked her to buy sex toys.
Prime Minister Theresa May was also facing calls to suspend a second senior Conservative, former Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb, after he was reported to have admitted sending explicit messages to a 19-year-old woman he interviewed for a job.
Commons Speaker John Bercow said sexual abuse allegations were “disturbing.” Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities Dawn Butler wrote an open letter yesterday to Ms May asking how she would deal with sex pest MPs.
Ms Butler told the Star: “I am also calling on all political parties to publicly release details of their complaints procedures to allow for independent scrutiny and to ensure these procedures are sufficiently robust and confidential.” firstname.lastname@example.org