There are three main avenues which may lead to the suspension of an MP. The first is for misbehaviour in the chamber. The second is where a Member has been found to have broken the Code of Conduct for Members or committed a contempt of Parliament. Thirdly, suspension is one of the sanctions that can be recommended by the Independent Expert Panel. In all cases, the House would have to agree to a motion suspending a Member of Parliament.

  • Table 1 – Members who have withdrawn from the House for that day’s sitting since 1992
  • Table 2 – Members suspended from the House since 1979

Disorderly conduct

The Speaker is responsible for keeping order in the Chamber and in Committees and if Members disregard the authority of the Chair, he can ask the Member to voluntarily leave the Chamber for the remainder of the day’s sitting. This request is not governed by Standing Orders and the MP can stay on the parliamentary estate and take part in Divisions. Should the Member refuse to comply with this request the Speaker can invoke SO No 43:

  1. The Speaker, or the chair, shall order any Member or Members whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day’s sitting; and the Serjeant at Arms shall act on such orders as he may receive from the chair in pursuance of this order. But if on any occasion the Speaker, or the chair, deems that his powers under the previous provisions of this order are inadequate, he may name such Member or Members, in which event the same procedure shall be followed as is prescribed by Standing Order No. 44 (Order in debate).

This requires the Member to leave the parliamentary estate for the remainder of that day’s sitting. If this order is disregarded, the MP can be named under SO No 44:

44.—(1) Whenever a Member shall have been named by the Speaker, or by the chair, immediately after the commission of the offence of disregarding the authority of the chair, or of persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of the House by abusing the rules of the House or otherwise, then if the offence has been committed by such Member in the House, the Speaker shall forthwith put the question, on a motion being made, ‘That such Member be suspended from the service of the House.’

Standards Committee

Where a Member is found to have broken the Code of Conduct or committed a contempt, the Standards Committee (previously the Standards and Privileges Committee) may recommend a period of suspension, which leads to a motion in the House. See Commons Library Briefing Paper Recall elections for more information.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is an independent officer of the House of Commons established under Standing Order No 150. The Commissioner investigates allegations that MPs have breached the rules found in paragraphs 11-18 of the House of Commons’ Code of Conduct for Members.

If the Commissioner upholds a complaint, she can resolve it herself if the MP admits their error and apologises, via the rectification procedure. In serious cases she submits a formal report to the Select Committee on Standards, for them to consider a sanction.

The Commissioner’s full report is always published, along with the evidence, unless it relates to an investigation under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. These are treated confidentially.

Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

The Commissioner also has oversight of investigations conducted under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme consists of the Behaviour Code, the Bullying and Harassment Policy, and the Sexual Misconduct Policy, which have been in place since July 2018.

The Independent Expert Panel was established by the House of Commons on 23 June 2020. The Panel hears appeals against decisions made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (the Commissioner), considers referrals from the Commissioner and determines sanctions in cases involving an allegation against an MP of a breach of Parliament’s Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Bullying and Harassment Policy, under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.

The Panel is entirely independent, with no MPs taking part in its decisions. The Panel members were appointed on 25 November 2020. Read more about the appointment of the Panel here.

Sanctions

Revised sanctions against Members for use in both ICGS cases (by the Commissioner, the Independent Expert Panel or the House, as appropriate) and in non-ICGS cases (by the Commissioner, the Committee or the House) were agreed by the House on 21 April 2021. Details of the sanctions, which include suspension, are in the Annex of the Committee on Standards report, Sanctions and confidentiality in the House’s standards system: revised proposals, 30 March 2021.

Further reading

The Code of Conduct together with The Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members HC 1882, 10 October 2019

Commons Library Briefing Paper Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme CBP-836927, April 2021

Commons Library Briefing Paper Sanctions and confidentiality in the House’s standards system CBP-9199, 20 April 2021

Commons Briefing Paper Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme: independent investigation

Parliament: facts and figures

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