Chair praises motions that will implement recommended changes and 'give teeth' to the Commons Standards system
21 April 2021
The Chair of the Committee on Standards, Chris Bryant MP, has praised motions tabled by the Leader of the House that will implement changes recommended by the Committee and aim to ‘give teeth’ to the Standards system in the House of Commons.
If approved, the motions tabled by the Government for debate this afternoon [Wednesday, 21.04.21], will implement changes recommended by the Committee on Standards in their sixth, seventh and twelfth reports.
In its sixth report published in June 2020, the Committee supported proposals from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, to ‘fine tune’ the arrangements on confidentiality in standards cases. In its seventh report published in July 2020, the Committee proposed an improved, expanded suite of sanctions, with varying degrees of severity, for breaches of the MPs’ Code of Conduct. In the Committee’s twelfth report, published last month, the Committee agreed minor revisions to the previous reports, including making a distinction between sanctions which affect the core functions of a Member and those which don’t. On confidentiality, the report proposed a right to issue public corrections in limited circumstances where significantly incorrect information about allegations against an MP had been made public and without detriment to safeguarding potentially vulnerable parties in ICGS cases.
The proposed changes apply both to cases involving alleged bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct (under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme) and to ones involving non-ICGS cases such as breaches of the Code relating to registering or declaring interests, lobbying or misuse of House facilities. ICGS cases are now dealt with by the new Independent Expert Panel, non-ICGS cases continue to be dealt with by the Committee on Standards.
The Government has now tabled motions for debate to give the House an opportunity to approve the changes recommended by the Committee on Standards.
Chris Bryant MP, Chair of the Committee on Standards, said:
“This is an important moment in our efforts to help build a robust, transparent and fair Standards system that everyone in the Parliamentary community can be proud of.
“For too long, the only sanctions available against MPs have been a slap on the wrist or suspension from the House. For the first time we will have a clear suite of sanctions that can be applied as appropriate to encourage best practice, root out inappropriate behaviour and punish those who bring Parliament into disrepute. The motions set out today will help modernise and give teeth to the standards system and will help restore public confidence in the House of Commons.
“Our Committee also supports the motion to improve confidentiality aspects of the system. The changes will help improve transparency while also safeguarding our commitment to confidentiality and protecting the vulnerable.
“I want to extend my thanks to colleagues across the House and lay Members on the Committee, and the range of experts that contributed to our reports. I look forward to discussing these proposals with colleagues and approving them as soon as possible so we can continue to improve our system of Standards in the House.”
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