MPs should stay out of Parliament’s bars to clean up Westminster sexism culture, Ben Wallace says

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is pictured in Westminster this morning - Alamy Live News

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is pictured in Westminster this morning – Alamy Live News

Ben Wallace today suggested MPs should “avoid” Parliament’s bars as he called for a change to the “culture” in the House of Commons amid claims of inappropriate and sexist behaviour in Westminster.

The Defence Secretary said that “we all know what happens when you mix long hours, drink and pressure environments”.

He said there have been a “range of allegations that go right across the House, go right across the parties” about unacceptable conduct and “this is a problem I think about the overall culture” which must be changed.

His comments came after it emerged a male Conservative MP is being investigated over claims he watched pornography in the Commons chamber.

The initial allegation was made by two female MPs at a meeting with senior party figures on Tuesday evening when a string of other sexism claims were also voiced.

The allegation has now been referred to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. A Conservative spokesman said: “Upon the conclusion of any investigation, the Chief Whip will take appropriate action.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:50 AM

Ben Wallace warns of ‘poisonous’ mix in Parliament

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, was asked during an interview on Times Radio if he had ever witnessed sexism in Parliament.

He told Times Radio: “What I have witnessed is, what I think is the fundamental problem of Westminster, is the overall culture is that, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people working long hours in a place with bars, and for some people, under lots of pressure for all sorts of reasons, and that mix becomes poisonous and I think we see all sorts of problems.

“That’s been going on for decades. And it’s not easy to fix. But I think you know, these things are problems. But also, you know, remember, Parliament reflects society, and all of us in our lives going about day to day business, see things that are unacceptable in our lives and that’s no difference in Parliament.”

07:43 AM

‘My advice to any MP is actually avoid the bars’

Ben Wallace said “we’ve seen lots of problems in the bars [in Parliament] over the decades” including “fights”, “sexist comments” and “propositions”.

The Defence Secretary told Times Radio: “I mean, my advice to any MP is actually avoid the bars, you know, finish your day’s work and go home.

“But you know, that that is part of the ultimate challenge around Parliament that I think needs to be fixed. And you know, in the armed forces, I have a similar challenge, which is often in those high pressure environments where people mix and then alcohol is consumed, you end up in a place where people do things, either they regret, or things that is totally unacceptable.”

07:38 AM

Ben Wallace calls for change in ‘culture’ in Westminster

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said he believes the “culture” in Westminster needs to change as he expressed concerns about MPs visiting bars in Parliament.

He told Sky News: “This is a problem I think about the overall culture of the House of Commons. It is late sitting, long nights with bars and that very often leads, and it has done for decades, to behavioural challenges and problems, whether that is too much drink…”

He added: “We all know what happens when you mix long hours, drink and pressure environments.

“I think it is really important that we think about ways to change the culture in the House of Commons so it doesn’t happen.”

07:36 AM

Ben Wallace: ‘No place for pornography in any work place’

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has said there can be no excuse for watching pornography in the House of Commons.

He told Sky News: “There is no place for pornography in any work place. People are there to do their job.

“I know that the chief whip has referred that complaint to the panel or the conduct authority and will look into that and if there is any action to be done then there should be action taken.

“I don’t think there is any excuse. You don’t sit in your workplace looking at pornography.”

07:34 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.

Parliament is due to prorogue later today as the current parliamentary session draws to a close ahead of the Queen’s Speech on May 10.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is on the morning broadcast round for the Government.

I will guide you through the key lines.

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