New Forest East



Sir Julian Lewis: As one of the colleagues who signed my hon. Friend’s suggested amendment, I found alarming the suggestion that an MP could be suspended on the basis of an allegation. It does not require much imagination to see certain circumstances in which an MP could be targeted by someone making a serious allegation with no factual underpinning whatsoever, and then having to be suspended. It is astonishing, frankly, that we could be put into such a situation on so flimsy a basis.

Sir Christopher Chope: I agree absolutely with my right hon. Friend, to whom I am grateful for supporting my amendments to the original motion. I am sure that it will be of concern to him that the hon. Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain) has tabled amendment (h) for debate on Monday, which would effectively take us back to the original motion by suggesting that, instead of having to be charged, a Member would only have to be arrested on suspicion of committing an offence in order to be excluded from this House.

Jess Phillips: On the previous intervention, I do not know how many rape, sexual violence or violence arrests the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Sir Julian Lewis) and the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) have handled, but an arrest does not happen on the basis of “flimsy” allegations; it takes weeks. I just put that on the record, as someone who deals with this week in, week out. The idea that somebody gets arrested just on someone’s say-so is for the birds.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Before we resume this debate, I point out that the motion before us is incredibly narrow. I fear that we may be having the debate that we will have on Monday, and we do not want that. This is just about the amount of time that will be allocated. The debate that we are sort of having now is really for Monday.


Sir Julian Lewis: While fully accepting your guidance, Mr Deputy Speaker, I must say in response to the intervention from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) that I said nothing about somebody who had been arrested. The original wording to which I objected did not refer to someone having been arrested; it was simply about whether somebody had been accused of something. On the point about someone having been arrested, I might well agree with her interpretation; it would depend on factors such as the bail circumstances.