The Commons Speaker said he wants to make sure there are ‘clear ways’ in which to support victims.
19 May 2022
Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said the reputation of the House of Commons can only be rebuilt if “bad eggs” are dealt with.
The Commons Speaker said those who work in Parliament should not feel alone or feel they have to suffer, as he highlighted there is support available.
He also said people should go straight to the police if a criminal offence has been committed.
Asked about his feelings on recent events and allegations involving figures in Westminster, Sir Lindsay told Times Radio: “I’m very, very concerned, not only for victims, but also this doesn’t help the reputation of the House of Commons. Far from it.
“What I want to do is make sure we have clear ways in which to support victims and making sure that those routes are available, and what I would say very clearly – if it is a criminal offence, please go straight to the police.
“We also have our ICGS, our independent complaints way forward, so as I say we have different routes, please use them.
“Do not feel you’re alone. Do not feel that you have to suffer. We’re here to help and support.
“And we’ve got to rebuild the reputation of the House of Commons. We can only do that by ensuring if there are bad eggs out there, let’s get them.”
Sir Lindsay said that unless the rules change, an MP has the right to enter the House of Commons while under police investigation.
His comments come as a Conservative MP is under police investigation after being accused of rape and sexual assault offences.
Sir Lindsay was asked if this MP should be kept away from entering the House while the police are investigating.
“Unless the rules change in the House, a member has the right to come in,” he said.
“What we believe is it’s in the best interest of both the member and the staff to stay away while there is a police investigation,” Sir Lindsay added.
He was asked if empowering him or the Commons authorities outside the traditional disciplinary routes of the party whips or parties themselves was something the Speakers’ conference should consider.
“What I would say is conversations are going on at the moment,” he said.
Asked whether it is time to put an end to the drinking culture in Westminster, Sir Lindsay said: “We do work strange hours, we do work in a strange place, people are nowhere near home and therefore this isn’t a normal place of working, in the same way that one could argue if you’re in the armed forces of course you’ve got bars on camp as well.
“MPs bring in visitors maybe from overseas and from their constituencies and therefore they will take them on to the terrace for a drink.
“And I think it’s about social drinking, responsible drinking and I think everybody will find that acceptable.”
He said Parliament is 100 yards from a pub on the corner in Westminster.
“I can’t bar people from every pub in London. From my point of view I recognise that people feel that we need to keep Strangers’ Bar open as part of the history of the House,” he said.
Last week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Times Radio that the mix of long hours, high pressure and alcohol could be “poisonous”, adding: “My advice to any MP is actually avoid the bars – finish a day’s work and go home.”
On Thursday, Sir Lindsay told the same radio station: “Ben’s my neighbour. I’ve got the greatest of respect.
“I’ve not seen Ben closing many bars down within the armed forces.
“So, you know, if the culture is fine there, why can’t we use the same kind of culture here?”