MPs charged with violent and sexual offenses face ban from UK Parliament – POLITICO

LONDON — MPs charged with serious criminal offenses could be banned from parliament under proposals due to come to the House of Commons next month.

The plan would see MPs and members of the House of Lords charged with a criminal offense undergo formal risk assessments to determine whether they pose a threat to others working on the parliamentary estate.

These would be conducted by HR and other professionals, who would then make a recommendation to a ‘referral committee’ of high-level parliamentarians such as the vice-presidents of each chamber.

The panel would decide whether to accept or reject this risk assessment – ​​and, if a finding that an MP or peer posed a risk was accepted, they would be barred from Westminster until the case against them was concluded.

The risk assessment would be triggered as soon as a parliamentarian is reported by the police to the authorities of either house of parliament.

The proposals come amid growing concern over wandering MPs, following a number of high-profile cases in which MPs accused of serious offenses including rape and sexual assault were cleared to continue to work in the parliamentary field.

A parliamentary official familiar with the process, whose anonymity was granted due to the sensitivity of the discussions, told POLITICO it would be up to the police to decide when to report an MP or peer to parliamentary authorities. In the past, this usually happened at the time of arrest, but sometimes not until an individual was charged.

If a person was deemed not to pose a risk after arrest, a further assessment would be carried out if they were subsequently charged with a criminal offence.

Many parliamentarians have been sensitive to the prospect of excluding elected officials without any input from their constituents. However, unions representing parliamentary staff say such a move is necessary to create a safe environment for the thousands of workers on the Westminster estate.

Next steps

MPs are expected to be asked to vote on the plan, which would cover parliamentarians accused of ‘violent or sexual offences’, in mid-June, the same official quoted above said, and come into force before the recess. summer.

The proposals were drawn up following consultation by the House of Commons Committee, the body of senior MPs that oversees the running of the House of Commons, and will now be shared with its counterpart in the House of Lords. The official said that although there is “broad agreement” on the cross-party commission plans, they remain a “moving party” until they are approved by the Lords Commission.

If accepted by the Lords Commission, a report setting out the plans will be presented to both Houses, with a debate scheduled for June 12.

A House of Commons spokesman said: “Following extensive consultation with groups across parliament, the House of Commons Committee has agreed to publish proposals regarding risk-based exclusions of members making the under criminal investigation for violent or sexual offences. These exclusions will apply to the parliamentary domain and to travel funded by Parliament.

“The proposals are currently being finalized by the Commission, which is engaging with the House of Lords, and will be published in due course. It will then be up to the Chamber to decide on these proposals, with a vote which will follow their publication.

The Commission originally proposed to only carry out risk assessments once an MP was charged with a crime, but following consultation it is now considering carrying them out at an earlier stage of the investigation , including during arrest.

In the past six years, two MPs have been convicted of sexual assault and one of harassment with threats of violence. Others have had their investigation dropped or found not guilty.

The Commission said that while a number of MPs under investigation had agreed to stay away from Parliament during a police investigation, some had failed to keep their promise.


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