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Tuesday 14 February 2023

FDA calls for MPs to be excluded from Parliamentary estate if arrested for violent or sexual offences


The FDA has welcomed the House of Commons Committee on Standards response to the House of Commons Commission’s consultation on precautionary exclusion, which proposed that MPs who pose a risk to staff or visitors could be excluded from the parliamentary estate after arrest. FDA National Officer for Parliament, Jawad Raza, commented:

“The FDA has long called for precautionary exclusion of MPs to be considered at the point of arrest. It’s reassuring to see that the Committee on Standards agrees. Carrying out a risk assessment at the point an MP is charged, as initially proposed by the House of Common Commission, is far too late and would put staff at unnecessary risk.”

Raza also praised the recommendation of the Committee to ensure that any decision-making panel on exclusion includes lay members, in order to ensure its independence:

“This is essential to inspire confidence in staff that the process will be free from political interference. MPs can’t be allowed to mark their own homework when it comes to serious cases of misconduct, as time and again we’ve seen politics take precedence over protecting victims.”

Highlighting the importance of effective precautionary exclusion and the inadequacy of the current system at protecting parliamentary staff, Raza stated:

“As it currently stands, even if an MP is arrested for serious sexual offences, there is no way to prevent them from attending the Parliamentary estate. Relying on informal agreements between Whips, Parliamentary authorities and MPs clearly isn’t the best way to proceed, as these measures are completely unenforceable.”

To improve the current system and adequately protect staff Raza argues that “the House of Commons Commission must now incorporate these recommendations and introduce precautionary exclusion without delay to protect staff.”

Raza’s response to the Committee’s recommendations have been quoted in the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard.

Last month Raza himself gave evidence to the House of Commons Commission’s consultation as part of a joint submission with other unions.

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