WE are calling on Parliament to amend the Recall of MPs Act 2015, to give the public the power to recall their MPs in cases where they have been found guilty of violence or harassment by the Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Add your signature to our open letter to parliament below.
Last week, Conservative MP Mark Field was captured on film aggressively pushing peaceful Greenpeace activist Janet Barker against a pillar and grabbing her by the neck.
He has been temporarily suspended from his role as a Foreign Office minister while an investigation into his conduct takes place but will continue to represent his constituents in parliament and vote on legislation that affects women’s lives.
Violent people have no place in Parliament. Constituents should have the power to trigger a by-election where their MP has assaulted someone.
At present, constituents can only recall their MP if they are convicted of an offence and receive a custodial sentence; banned from the House of Commons for ten sitting days (a period longer than that possible for a single offence); or convicted of providing misleading information for allowance claims under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.
Field is only the latest in a string of MPs who have been accused of committing acts of aggression, harassment or assault against women while in public office, and yet not one of these men have lost their job as an MP.
Former MP Fiona Onasanya lost her Peterborough seat for lying about a speeding offence and Chris Davies lost his Brecon and Radnorshire seat for falsely claiming office decorations on his expenses. However, the fourteen MPs accused of harassment, violence or rape during the Pestminster scandal continue to sit in parliament, as does Mark Field - despite attacking a woman on camera.
An MP can only be recalled for assault if they receive a Custodial sentence. However, prison sentences for crimes involving violence against women are notoriously hard to secure. Only 1.7 percent of rapes reported to police in England and Wales result in a charge, while perpetrators of assault are often let off with a fine.
The lack of accountability in Westminster is unacceptable. At a time when one in five people working there has reportedly experienced harassment, this failure to act on violent behaviour sends a strong message that politics is not for women.
It is vital that constituents be given greater powers to hold their representatives to account when they exhibit violent behaviour. Mark Field grabbed a woman by the throat. The public should be able to send the message loud and clear that men like this do not represent us.