Unions support proposals for ‘policy of exclusion based on risk’ at Westminster.

Parliamentary authorities have released new proposals that set a threshold for the banning of MPs from parliament upon their arrest for violent or sexual offenses. Trade unions have praised the publication of these proposals, and there are calls for a vote on the issue as soon as the House of Commons reconvenes in the new year.

The fresh proposals, referred to as a “risk-based exclusion policy,” were published by the House of Commons Commission. They explicitly define the moment of arrest as the threshold at which MPs may face exclusion from the precinct. A risk assessment will be triggered when the police inform Commons authorities about serious allegations of violent or sexual offenses committed by a parliamentarian, usually at the moment of arrest.

Notably, this new threshold is lower than the original proposal, which aimed to start a risk assessment only once an MP is formally charged with a crime. The House of Commons Commission, consisting of senior MPs, has also removed a suggestion for a staff panel to conduct the initial assessment. Instead, a panel, including senior MPs, will perform the risk assessment using information from the police and any existing voluntary arrangements for MPs to stay away from Westminster. If an MP is considered a threat to the parliamentary community, the panel may decide to impose a ban.

Mike Clancy, the general secretary of the Prospect union, applauded the proposals as a step towards creating a safe work environment in parliament. He urged political parties to promptly inform relevant authorities when conducting investigations into allegations of sexual and violent misconduct by MPs. This is necessary to ensure the protection of staff and visitors on the parliamentary estate.

The FDA union, representing senior and middle management civil servants, expressed frustration over the stream of allegations of sexual misconduct that have tarnished parliament’s reputation and eroded the trust of staff. Jawad Raza, a national officer for the FDA, deemed it unacceptable that there is no mechanism to prevent individuals arrested for serious sexual offenses from entering the parliamentary estate. He called for the immediate implementation of the proposals.

Downing Street stated that the timing of the vote on this issue is the prerogative of parliament. The spokesperson for the prime minister emphasized the government’s willingness to support the necessary discussions and acknowledged that there is still work to be done, but stressed that the final decision lies with parliamentarians.

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