UK politics news – live: Union warns parliament not ‘a safe place to work’ amid latest sex assault scandal – The Independent

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Claims of rape and sexual assault lodged against Tory MP span period of two years
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Rishi Sunak fails first electoral test as Labour retains Chester seat
A civil service union has warned that Parliament is not a “safe place to work” after a group of Conservative politicians reported a fellow MP to police over allegations they committed rape and a string of sexual assaults.
The backbench MP was reported to the force by a group of Tory MPs, whose claims against the accused span a period of two years, broadcasterTalkTV reports.
The MP is said to be subject to an investigation by an independent law firm. They have not, however, had the Conservative whip removed or been suspended by party chiefs.
Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect union, says: “This MP remains free to visit the House of Commons and interact with staff despite these very serious allegations.
“This highlights yet again that there is no fit-for-purpose process in place to deal with this type of case and make Parliament a safe place to work.”
It comes after the Conservative party suffered its worst election result in Chester since 1832 after Labour retained the seat with an increased share of the vote.
Matt Hancock has told the Commons the “best way to spread opportunity and reduce inequality in society is by providing every person with a world-class education”.
The former health secretary went on: “These are not my words but they’re the words of my right honourable friend the prime minister and I passionately agree with them.
“I agree with him that this should apply to all and my Bill represents the next step in turning these strong words into action. I’m delighted that the Bill has cross-party support.”
He added: “I firmly support the government’s approach to increase rigour and improving standards in our schools. That is at the heart of what this Bill will do.
“That drive over a decade is raising standards and with raised standards can raise opportunity and hope for children. And we’ve seen that improvement especially in the most deprived parts of our land.”
Matt Hancock has made his first contribution in the House of Commons since his spell on the ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Before the former health secretary opened the second reading debate of his Dyslexia Screening and Teacher Training Bill, Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans joked: “This is the third Bill of the day and I know Mr Hancock you appear to be making a habit of coming third these days, so…”
The now independent MP for West Suffolk said: “I am not quite sure what to make of that. But I am honoured to be third today and let’s see how that goes.
“But it’s also a pleasure to be here and to be clean and well-fed.”
A new law to enshrine the human right to clean air has passed in the House of Lords and now heads to the Commons to be scrutinised by MPs.
The Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, also known as Ella’s Law, is named after Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who died following an asthma attack in 2013.
Ella, who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London, became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
The Private Member’s Bill, put forward by Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, would require public bodies to review and monitor pollution limits, with the aim of achieving clean air within five years.
The Bill, backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan, would also set up a commission to scrutinise Government action.
Lady Jones said: “This is quite a momentous day for me and many other people…
“Parliament has the need, the power and the opportunity to enshrine the human right to clean air precisely and explicitly in England and Wales law. Doing so would improve of decision-making at all levels of government overnight.
“My Bill is reasonable. It will establish the right to breathe clean air, confirm clean air targets for air pollutants and greenhouse gases, set deadlines while allowing postponements, encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency and ensure a proportional approach to enforcement.”
She added: “I hope that MPs will support my Bill and that the Government will allow it time to progress in the other place and reach royal assent.”
She paid tribute to Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah, Ella’s mother, who was present in the chamber for the third reading of the Bill.
Defra minister Lord Benyon responded: “Action on air pollution is an absolute necessity to ensure the health of our people and of our environment.
“Nothing has made this clearer than the death of Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah and I would like to again pay tribute to her mother Rosamund, to her family and her friends, who have campaigned so tirelessly in support of improving the air we all breathe.
“The Government absolutely recognises the need for action on air quality and we are able to take that action, supported by our robust and comprehensive legal framework, now improved by the Environment Act 2021. This is why we have reservations in regard to how the Baroness’s Bill would be delivered.
“But in protecting people from the effects of harmful pollutants, we must not only take action to drive down emissions but also to drive up public awareness. The Baroness’s Bill and her hard work campaigning in support of it has undoubtedly furthered this aim.”
In her speech to peers, Lady Jones noted that the 70th anniversary of the Great Smog is approaching, a severe air pollution event from December 5 to 9 1952, which saw a thick layer of smog over London.
The smog severely reduced visibility, even penetrating indoor areas, and it was estimated that between 10,000 and 12,000 people died as a direct result of it, with 100,000 made ill by its effects on their respiratory tract.
It was this event that triggered the first Clean Air Act in 1956.
Former Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg warned against “drawing too much” from a “relatively small” number of Tory resignations.
Put to him that some of the younger MPs who are departing at the next election, such as Chloe Smith and William Wragg, are not expressing much faith in the Conservative Party’s future, he said: “I don’t think that’s right.”
“I think you’re drawing too much from still a relatively small number of resignations,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.
“Chloe Smith got in in a by-election, has served in the highest office, has been a distinguished minister. But she started her political career very young, and in her still early 40s is looking at the opportunity to do other things. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
“I think you don’t want to have a whole cadre of professional politicians who get in at 20 and remain until they’re 80. That would be a very stodgy, difficult form of politics that I don’t think the country would like.
“So you need an element of turnover. And people’s lives and careers take different paths. And that’s always been the case.”
Former Cabinet minister Sajid Javid has become the most prominent Tory MP yet to announce he is stepping back at the next general election, shortly after the party was stung by another mid-term defeat.
The ex-chancellor and health secretary did not give a reason for his exit, saying only that he had he had “wrestled” with the choice for “some time”, and pledged to continue to support the Prime Minister “in any way I can”.
He said his decision had been “accelerated” by the fact Conservatives have been asked to confirm their intentions for contending the next nationwide poll at an “early stage”.
He joins a steady stream of Tory colleagues who have said they will not run at the next election, which will be no later than January 2025, including Chloe Smith, William Wragg and rising star Dehenna Davison.
Sajid Javid
The strikes are a challenge for Labour as well as the Tories, writes Andrew Grice.
The strikes are a challenge for Labour as well as the Tories, writes Andrew Grice
Sir Keir Starmer has said that his party’s victory at the Chester by-election is a “very, very good result” for Labour.
Speaking on a visit to Glasgow, he said: “Let’s be clear this was a very, very good result for the Labour Party.
“The Labour Party has been putting forward a positive plan for the future, how we stabilise and grow our economy.
“So we were putting a positive choice to the electorate in Chester.
“The government is worn out, tired, has crashed the economy. And the verdict was very, very clearly given. I think that’s a clear message to prime ninister Rishi Sunak that people are fed up and they want to change.
“There’s this strong sense now that the government has run out of road, run out of ideas, hasn’t got a mandate, and it’s time for change.”
Rishi Sunak has expressed his sadness at the departure of Sajid Javid after the former health secretary announced today he will not run as an MP in the next general election.
“Sad to see my good friend @sajidjavid stepping back from politics,” the prime minister tweeted.
“He’s been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in Government and on the backbenches – particularly for the people of Bromsgrove.
“May the Force be with you, Saj.”
Rishi Sunak has backed Conservative politicians who reported a fellow MP to police over allegations they committed rape and a string of sexual assaults.
Downing Street said it was “right” the allegations had been reported.
“The right people to investigate are the police and it is right that any allegations of that nature are referred to them, “ No 10 said.
The senior Conservative MP was reported to the Metropolitan Police by a group of his colleagues.
Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports:
Rishi Sunak has backed Conservative politicians who reported a fellow MP to police over allegations they committed rape and a string of sexual assaults.
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