It was revealed that MPs may be asked to support ‘anti-racism and inclusion’ in a controversial reform of the parliamentary rules.
Yesterday’s Commons standards committee published a series of reforms for cleaning up Westminster after the controversy over second jobs.
The proposal included a ban for MPs to have paid advisory roles that advised firms how to lobby and influence Parliament.
According to a new controversial revision of Parliamentary Rules, MPs might be obliged to encourage ‘antiracism. inclusion. and diversity.’
The shake-up would require them to agree to no lobbying of ministers.
However, the watchdog for sleaze suggested that the code of conduct be amended to include a principle of respect. This governs the behavior of Commons members.
The proposals would require MPs to ‘exhibit anti-discriminatory behaviours and attitudes through the promotion and support of inclusion, diversity, and anti-racism’.
However, critics referred to the action as “woke” and said that it was not necessary since discrimination is already against law. They also claimed they couldn’t understand why it was important to declare the obvious in terms of decency.
Boris Johnson is struggling to control a raft of allegations about the Tories that are sleaze after the Owen Paterson row
Another recommendation was to ban MPs from making ‘unreasonable or excessive personal attacks’ on anyone in the Commons, as well social media.
The committee explained why they added the new “respect” principle. It stated: “We note that current code already contains a statement that members must also observe the principles laid out in Parliamentary Behaviour Code. These include respect, professionalism and understanding other’s perspectives. They are expected to accept responsibility.
“We think that formalizing the expectation as a distinct principle will emphasize the House’s commitment towards the Behaviour Cod and Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.
“We consider it important that the code explicitly refers to diversity, anti-racism and inclusion.
These proposals will be subject to consultation, before final recommendations can be published in the new year. A Commons vote is expected prior to Easter.
The changes were backed unanimously by members of the cross-party committee – but an anonymous survey of backbenchers conducted as part of the review, found opposition to the new ‘respect’ principle.
One responded, “I don’t think it’s a good idea nor necessary.”
“It’s all rubbish. If you begin trying to enforce that, it will be a distraction from your core. This organization is trying to wake up.
Another replied, “No it is nonsense.” It’s easy to leave yourself open for interpretation.
Another MP stated that he didn’t think it was a good idea to reduce the slant of debate in parliamentary meetings.
It was reported that MPs who supported the move felt it would aid in ‘countering unconscious bias and/or underlining racism.
In addition to the codes, they also set out guidelines for how MPs should behave. The rules can only be broken by MPs, and not the principles.
Downing Street stated it will ‘engage closely in the proposals’, but declined to give any details about when the Government would respond.