MPs suspended for bullying or sexual harassment can now face a recall petition – a move that could lead to by-elections – based on a rule change passed in the House of Commons.
This is followed by the case of Congressman Rob Roberts, who did not face a recall petition despite being suspended by Parliament for sexual misconduct.
MPs voted to close the loophole.
But it won’t apply retroactively to Roberts, which Labor believes should be.
- Appeal to ban MPs accused of crimes from Commons
- Disgraced MP Rob Roberts suspended from the Tory party
- Wrong recall move for disgraced deputy, says the watchdog
In May, Delyn Roberts’ deputy was suspended for six weeks after Parliament’s Independent Expert Group (IEP) found he had sexually assaulted a member of his staff.
He apologized and said he would “continue to serve” his constituency, and has since spoken in debates in the House of Commons.
However, his suspension did not lead to a recall petition, a process in which voters can potentially trigger an election to try to remove them.
This is because it was passed down by the independent panel, a body set up last year to look into cases of sexual harassment and bullying.
Under the original law, recall petitions are only initiated automatically if an MP is suspended for at least 10 days by a different body, the Commons Standards Committee.
The committee reviewed cases of sexual harassment and bullying before they were transferred to the independent panel.
House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg warned that the Labor amendment to apply the change retrospectively would set “a very problematic precedent.”
He argued that it would “undermine” the panel’s independence and would be tantamount to making a “political decision” on a single case.
He said the panel could have recommended expelling Mr. Roberts, but he chose not to take that option.
Shadow Labor House of Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire acknowledged that having to introduce “retrospective rule changes is an extremely unpleasant situation to be in”.
But he defended the Labor amendment by arguing: “It cannot be right that simply because of the timing of a denunciation … your constituents will not have the opportunity to have a recall or a by-election if they so wish.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart came out in favor of the amendment saying that “there was almost a feeling that someone got away with it.”
He also said they should look into why MPs under investigation for “the worst case” have still been allowed access to parliamentary assets – something the unions are demanding.
Shadow Conservation Minister Jess Phillips argued that not voting for the amendment would hurt Delyn’s voters because “If you are vulnerable you will not introduce yourself to someone who has used the vulnerability for their own ends.”
But his Labor colleague and chair of Parliament’s standards committee, Congressman Chris Bryant, said he would not support the Labor amendment to make the rule changes retrospective because the panel could have expelled Rob Roberts.
But he said it “represents a very difficult example for the House that someone has behaved inappropriately … chooses to stay in the House” and said the deputy should resign.
Conservative Sir Edward Leigh also opposed the amendment arguing that people should be “punished according to the law the moment you commit your crime.”
The Labor amendment was defeated by 297 votes to 213, the same rule change was then passed without a full vote.
Read More about Politics News here.
This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source