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The House of Commons Commission has drawn up proposals to exclude MPs from the Parliamentary Estate in certain circumstances, following a risk assessment.

This followed concerns, particularly from unions and parliamentary staff, that MPs who are under investigation for sexual misconduct, or in some cases sexual offences, can continue to attend Parliament.

This briefing explains the proposals, how MPs would approve changes, and the position in the House of Lords.

Proposals for the exclusion of MPs from the Parliamentary Estate

On 5 June 2023, the House of Commons Commission published proposals for excluding MPs (PDF) from the Parliamentary Estate and Parliament-funded travel. Allegations of sexual or violent offending reported to the Clerk of the House of Commons by the police at any point in the criminal justice process, could lead to exclusion.

On 14 December 2023, the House of Commons Commission published updated proposals for a policy on risk-based exclusion of MPs (PDF).

Under both proposals, the Commission proposed that a risk assessment should take place if the Clerk of the House of Commons was provided with information from the police about an MP who is subject to serious allegations relating to a violent or sexual offence.

In practice, the Clerk would be provided with this information from the police if an MP was arrested, so the risk assessment would occur on arrest.

In its report, the Commission noted the changes made to the policy as originally proposed:

(a) There is no longer a staff panel which makes an initial assessment.

(b) The risk assessment will take into consideration whether there is an existing voluntary arrangement between the Member and their whip to stay away from the Estate.

(c) A risk assessment will be triggered when information is received from the Police regarding serious allegations that a Member has committed a violent or sexual offence. In practice, this will be at the point of arrest.

(d) There will be a review of the operation of the policy after six months.

The Commission also proposed that excluded MPs would be offered a proxy vote for seven months in the first instance.

Before any scheme could be implemented, it would need to be approved by the House of Commons.

Motion on risk-based exclusion

A motion on risk-based exclusion was published on 31 January 2024. It provided for the House of Commons to approve the Commission’s December 2023 report; to agree a new standing order to implement the risk-based exclusion policy; and to allow MPs who are excluded from the Parliamentary Estate to apply for a proxy vote.

The motion also required the Speaker to appoint a panel to review the operation of the new standing order by 16 September 2024.

The motion and amendments to it were expected to be considered by MPs on Monday 4 March 2024. However, the debate was not mentioned when the Leader of the House announced the forthcoming business on 29 February.

Revised motion on the threshold for exclusion

On 21 March 2024, a revised motion was published. It was tabled by Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the House of Commons and a member of the Commission.

Under this motion, the Commission’s updated proposals would be implemented with one change. The motion approves the proposals, “save that the threshold for risk based exclusion should be when a Member has been charged with a relevant offence”. This means that a risk assessment would take place if an MP has been charged with a violent or sexual offence, rather than at arrest.

How the proposals have been developed

In April 2022, the Procedure Committee published a memorandum from the former Clerk of the House of Commons on barring MPs from the precincts (PDF). He said:

It is a fundamental constitutional right for Members who have been elected by their constituents to represent them here, and no-one outside the House itself has power to curtail that right.

Although it would be possible for the House, by resolution, to require MPs not to attend Parliament, the Clerk identified two counter-considerations. First, ensuring continued representation for constituents and second, fairness to the individual under investigation.

The issue was then considered by the House of Commons Commission, which employs House staff.

In December 2022, the House of Commons Commission launched a consultation on excluding MPs charged with violent or sexual offences from the Parliamentary Estate and Parliamentary-funded travel (PDF).

On 5 June 2023, the Commission published its proposals for excluding MPs (PDF).

The Commission also published a risk identification tool (PDF), risk mitigation processes (PDF) and terms of exclusion (PDF).

A debate on ‘risk-based exclusion of Members of Parliament’ was held on 12 June 2023, in the Commons Chamber.

In closing the debate, Penny Mordaunt identified issues that would require further consideration by the House of Commons Commission, including what the trigger for the process should be.

At its meeting on 10 July 2023, the Commission considered potential amendments (PDF) to the original (5 June 2023) proposals and agreed to make further proposals to the House after the summer recess.

At its meeting on 23 October 2023, the Commission “requested further development of its proposals relating to risk-based exclusion” (PDF).

As noted above, updated proposals were published by the Commission on 14 December 2023. The revised motion published on 21 March 2024 changes these proposals.

House of Lords temporary exclusion scheme

The House of Lords Procedure and Privileges Committee proposed a temporary exclusion scheme and a standing order to give it effect (PDF), in a report published on 12 February 2024.

The House of Lords debated the scheme and approved the new standing order on 28 February 2024.

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