Wednesday, May 4, 2022

PM rejects calls for a woman to replace ‘porn MP’ as he admits to ‘doing more’ against sexual harassment

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International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who revealed last week that she was harassed by another MP, said: “We need to make sure the punishment becomes a real deterrent.”

The Prime Minister rejected calls for the Conservative Party to insist on a woman candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections after MP Neil Parish resigned over pornography viewing.

More needs to be done to tackle sexual harassment in Westminster but the government is making progress, Boris Johnson has admitted.

But Mr Johnson said culture reforms and measures to tackle problem behavior had “progressed by leaps and bounds” since he first arrived as MP in 2001.

He told Times Radio: “Things have changed massively. Even I came when I came in in 2001… it was a whole different vibe, the vibe. We’ve made leaps and bounds. Is there more progress to be made? yes there is We can do it.”

MPs who sexually harass or bully other MPs or staff face tougher penalties to discourage them from misbehaving, a cabinet minister has suggested.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who revealed last week that she had been harassed by another MP, said: “We must ensure that punishment becomes a real deterrent”.

There were concerns about existing parliamentary procedures for dealing with cases of harassment and bullying, with some women MPs saying it does not serve as a deterrent to wrongdoing.

The independent complaints and grievance system fails to offer victims and witnesses complete anonymity when escalating a grievance, while the independent panel of experts who decides on punishment has been criticized for recommending overly lenient sentences.

Labor MP Liam Byrne was suspended from the Commons for just two days last week after an inquiry found he had bullied a constituency staffer.

Female Tory MPs have urged Mr Johnson to do more to root out wrongdoing by his own MPs following Mr Parish’s resignation.

The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has agreed to a special conference to get a grip on the problem in Westminster, but insiders want the process to produce real reforms rather than being a ‘talking shop’ for MPs.

Ms Trevelyan said she believed the ongoing revelations about MPs’ behavior would lead to further changes in Parliament.

She said reform has already started thanks to the independent complaints and complaints system, but added: “We need to build confidence in this new organisation.

“The work that Andrea Leadsom and others have done to make that happen is really important … we need to build confidence in young women.”

The cabinet minister said BBC breakfast: “These new systems that we have make sure that young men and women who are suffering abuse of power at the hands of the very small minority of men in Parliament who think they can get away with this stuff, we need to make sure that the punishment becomes a real deterrent so that the young people suffering from this bad behavior know that if they stand up and are brave enough to say “this happened to me” it will not jeopardize their jobs in any way.

“What it will do is ensure that the offender receives appropriate punishment.”

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