Commons Speaker urges ‘radical’ reform after MP Neil Parish quits over porn ‘moment of madness’

Politics

“Radical” reform is needed to working practices in the Commons, the Speaker of the House has urged, following a series of bullying and sexual misconduct claims against MPs.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s call for urgent action comes as Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned from his post after admitting to watching pornography in a “moment of madness” in the Commons on two occasions.

In his appeal for changes to be made, Sir Lindsay suggested that individual MPs should no longer be the employers of their staff, adding that “some serious allegations have been made”.

He also said he was considering moving to an outside body employing aides as parliament’s reputation is feared to have fallen to a new low.

The Sunday Times has suggested that former business secretary Andrea Leadsom may be working with the Speaker.

The newspaper quoted her as saying: “Things haven’t changed and that’s because there aren’t enough cases coming through and it’s taking too long for investigations to come to an end.

“It’s only when you see people getting done for being blind drunk and subject to the appropriate sanctions that people will start to think twice about their behaviour.”

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Writing in The Observer, Sir Lindsay explained his views, saying “it is time” a review of working practices is carried out.

File photo dated 14/03/22 of Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle who has called for "radical" reform to working practices in the Commons after a series of bullying and sexual misconduct claims involving MPs. Calling for urgent action, Sir Lindsay suggested staff should no longer be employed by the parliamentarians they work for to address a series of "serious allegations". Issue date: Saturday April 30, 2022.
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Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has called for ‘radical’ reform

“In my opinion, it is time to consider radical action, and review structures and processes that could make a difference,” he said.

“Some serious allegations have been made, and we must address them as a matter of urgency. It is imperative we do the right thing by staff and MPs as well.”

The Conservative’s chairman Oliver Dowden has reportedly told The Sunday Telegraph that half of the party’s MPs returned at the next election will be women as it aims to make changes to tackle Westminster sleaze.

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‘It was tractors that I was looking at’: Tory MP announces his resignation

‘Licking the faces of male researchers’

In recent weeks, a number of damning allegations have plagued the Commons, with 56 MPs reportedly facing claims of sexual misconduct.

At least three Cabinet ministers are thought to be among the parliamentarians that have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme over the allegations.

According to The Sunday Times, a senior MP has been accused of repeatedly licking the faces of male researchers in parliamentary bars.

A former government adviser also alleged that the same MP had groped them several years ago and behaved inappropriately towards one of their friends while they were sleeping, the paper added.

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It also claims a minister has been accused of having “noisy sex” in his parliamentary office.

What else has happened in the Commons?

Earlier this week, Labour MP Liam Byrne was found to have “ostracised” a former assistant after an office dispute and is now set to be suspended from the Commons for two days.

This came after David Warburton had the Conservative whip withdrawn following allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use were made against him.

David Warburton MP for Somerton and Frome
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David Warburton had the Tory whip withdrawn amid claims over sexual harassment and drug use

The claims about the Somerton and Frome MP are now being examined by Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

And former Tory MP Imran Khan resigned from his position after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

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