MPs to transfer sanctions power to independent panel
Members of Parliament are to be asked to agree changes to Commons rules next week which remove their ability to determine the sanctions faced by MPs in cases of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.
A motion tabled for debate on Tuesday 23 June will establish an Independent Expert Panel empowered to determine the appropriate sanction in cases referred to it under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).
The changes bring about a fundamental break with the past in which sanctions were determined through the Committee on Standards, comprising Members of Parliament and lay members.
Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said:
This is an historic moment for Parliament. It is absolutely right that the process of handling complaints against MPs has been taken away from a parliamentary committee and handed to an entirely independent panel of experts.
We have now acted on all three of Dame Laura Cox’s recommendations but there remains more we can do - which is why I will be keeping up the momentum for further cultural change in Parliament.
I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure that everyone working in Westminster is treated courteously and with respect.
The most severe sanctions imposed by the Independent Expert Panel, including suspension and expulsion, will require the formal authorisation of the House of Commons.
In response to concerns that the findings of the Independent Expert Panel could be reopened or questioned by MPs, the Leader of the House is seeking an additional change to the Commons’ rules on proceedings.
This change would prevent the name of the complainant and details of the investigation from being disclosed in the debate. MPs would not be able to call into question the determination of the panel’s sanctions.
Notes to Editors
- Under the motion tabled for debate on Tuesday 23 June 2020 the functions of the Panel are defined as:
- to determine the appropriate sanction in ICGS cases referred to it by the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards
- to hear appeals against the decisions of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in respect of ICGS cases involving Members of this House
- to hear appeals against a sanction imposed under paragraph (a)
- to report from time to time, through the Clerk of the House, on the operation of the ICGS as it relates to Members of this House.
- An additional motion applying rules on proceedings relating to matters raised by the Independent Expert Panel or its sub-panels will also be put to the House on Tuesday 23 June: That, subject to the discretion of the Chair, the House shall apply the following rules in proceedings on matters raised by the Independent Expert Panel or its sub-panels:
- The name of any complainant may not be referred to in any motion, debate or question.
- Details of any investigation or specific matters considered by a sub-panel of the Independent Expert Panel shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question.
- The findings and determination of sanctions of a sub-panel of the Independent Expert Panel may not be called into question.
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