New rules for MPs could see them banned from visiting Parliament’s many bars and restaurants if they breach the members’ code of conduct.
The proposal of withdrawing access to services on the parliamentary estate was put forward in a report by Westminster’s Standards Committee, as a way of punishing MPs who break the rules.
Under proposed revisions to the sanctions system, the committee also suggests introducing a distinction between sanctions which affect the core functions of a member and those which do not.
The committee has been working on its proposals to modernise the current system and to “fine-tune” its confidentiality arrangements in the “interests of fairness to all concerned”.
A right to issue public corrections is also recommended by the committee and would apply under certain limited circumstances where significantly incorrect information about allegations against an MP has been made public and without detriment to the importance of offering appropriate protection to potentially vulnerable parties.
What would this achieve?
Labour MP Chris Bryant, chair of the Standards Committee, insisted that the proposals set out will “give teeth” to the standards system.
He said: “This is an important moment in the committee’s 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.
“The reality is that breaches of conduct are rarely black and white, and so the sanctions in such cases shouldn’t be either. The proposals we set out will give teeth to the standards system.”
Mr Bryant also outlined the measures put forward in order to bolster confidentiality within the system.
Calls for improved confidentiality
He said: “Our committee also supports calls from the Commissioner for Standards to improve the confidentiality aspect of the system.
“We recommend empowering the commissioner to improve transparency through a range of measures while also safeguarding our commitment to confidentiality and protecting the identities of the vulnerable.
“I want to extend my thanks to colleagues and lay members on the committee, and the range of experts that contributed to our report.
“We now call on the Government to put these proposals to the House to agree at the earliest opportunity.”