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Watered-down plans to ban sex-pest MPs will put Parliamentary staff at risk, Prospect says

WATERED-DOWN proposals for MPs accused of a violent or sexual offence to be banned from Parliament only after they have been charged, rather than at the point of arrest, will put staff at risk, the Prospect union has warned.

General secretary Mike Clancy urged MPs to vote against the government plans when a long-awaited Commons debate on risk-based exclusion of MPs takes place on Monday.

He said: “We have waited a long time for Parliament to make even a pretence at becoming a 21st century workplace in relation to MPs being accused of serious misbehaviour. 

“Prospect has been campaigning for the threshold for exclusion to be arrest, which we see as the best way to protect staff and for staff to feel safe in their workplace.

“We urge MPs to vote to do just that and not just go for the government’s watered-down version with exclusion only possible after charge.”

At present, MPs in such circumstances are only prevented from attending Westminster by voluntary arrangements with their own party whips.

In December, the House of Commons commission proposed that if an MP was arrested on suspicion of committing a violent or sexual offence, then a risk assessment would take place to determine whether they should no longer be allowed to attend the parliamentary estate.

The Clerk of the House would receive information from the police about an MP who is subject to serious allegations of a violent or sexual nature, which the commission had said would happen “in practice on arrest.”

Commons authorities have now confirmed that the threshold for consideration of a ban has been changed to the “point of charge, rather than arrest.”

A panel, expected to include senior MPs, would carry out a risk assessment based on information from the police, along with any existing voluntary arrangements for the MP to stay away from Westminster.

The 11-member Commons commission is made up of lay people and senior MPs, including Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt and her opposite Labour number Lucy Powell.

Ms Mordaunt provisionally scheduled a debate on its proposals for March 4 and MPs raised “serious questions” after that date passed without her mentioning the motion.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this month, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged Rishi Sunak to bring forward a vote on approving measures to exclude MPs arrested for serious sexual or violent offences.

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