All the MPs who voted for anonymity over abuse investigations

MPs have rejected an amendment from the chairman of the Committee on Standards, Labour's Sir Kevin Barron, that would have named politicians being investigated.

On Wednesday, Parliament voted to back the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Procedure to protect those who work for MPs.

It has been seen as a step forward – in that for the first time there is an independent process to complain about harassment and abuse in Parliament. But there are big gaps remaining.

The new system means that when an investigation is launched against an MP, they will not be named – raising fears it could prevent more people coming forward.

MPs rejected an amendment from the chairman of the Committee on Standards, Labour’s Sir Kevin Barron, that would have prevented that – by 79 votes to 22. 

Sir Barron backed the principle of confidentiality before an investigation had been officially launched, but said the Standards Committee ‘do not believe that the publication of whether a Member is under investigation will cause irreparable damage to that Member’s reputation’.

Urging members to back the amendment from the Standards Committee, Labour’s Jess Phillips told MPs:
“We manage in the criminal courts to maintain complete anonymity for victims and complete transparency for the accused. If that can be managed in a very open environment such as the courts, where the public can go in to sit and watch, I have faith that we can manage it here.
“I have faith in the commissioner and in the Committee on Standards. However, I worry about how it looks that we are trying to pull back on transparency.”
Caroline Lucas agreed:

“What is at stake is the issue of whether consistency [with the report recommendations] is more important than transparency. To my mind, transparency is more important in this instance. Consistency is nice to have, but I think we can explain why there is a difference between the way in which we treat someone who fiddles their expenses or who fiddles paperclips, and the way in which we treat people who have made allegations of sexual harassment and bulling, with follow-up investigations.

“I do share the sneaking suspicion voiced by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) that there are perhaps other forces at play that are leading us in this direction.”

But Andrea Leadsom – leader of the House – rejected the call:

“It took me considerable time and effort…to persuade the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the Standards Committee even of the need not to name people when opening investigations…

“I have asked that we temporarily suspend naming people when opening investigations for the purpose of giving ourselves a clear run at this, even if we re-implement [it]…after six months….

“We need a clear run at this, so we need confidentiality and consistency.”

Sky reported that within hours of the vote, a webpage listing which MPs are being probed by parliament’s sleaze watchdog, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, was deleted.

One Parliamentary staffer told Left Foot Forward granting MPs anonymity could “allow certain people to just get slaps on the wrists rather than actual punishment.”

“MPs shouldn’t have the luxury of secrecy if they’re our representatives. It also goes directly against the work of movements such as #MeToo.”

Here’s the full list of MPs who rejected naming the MPs who are under investigation for bullying or harassment:

Conservatives (70)

DUP (1)

Labour (5)

(You can read the full debate here and see the MPs who backed the naming MPs here.)

Unite’s Parliamentary convener Max Freedland – who was involved in drafting the new proposals – welcomed the overall system as a step forward:

“We will now have an independent system to consider these matters, and training, and HR helpline. The hope is then that we see culture change so we don’t need to use these tools. From where we were it’s a real leap forward.”

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him onTwitter.

See also: ‘Parliament’s new sexual harassment code is a step forward – but questions still remain

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One Response to “All the MPs who voted for anonymity over abuse investigations”

  1. Malcolm Swann

    What has happened here is for the few and not the many. MPs voting for their own protection. I, as a voter can not vote for anonymity for myself. All MPs are covered by this anonymity and yet less than 100 MPs actually voted. What happened to democracy??????????? MPs, like everyone else, should be subject to the same rules. Who else gets a chance to vote for anything that benefits just them. What an Unfair world we live in.

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