A Cabinet minister today read the riot act to sleazy male MPs demanding they ‘keep your hands in your pockets’ – as Tories urged their porn-watching colleague to quit for the good of the party.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the vast majority of her male colleagues are ‘delightful’ and ‘committed parliamentarians’.
But she said a few behaved badly when they had ‘too much drink’, insisting people should behave ‘as if their daughter was in the room’.
The intervention, in a round of interviews, came as Boris Johnson condemned the MP accused of watching porn in the Commons, and other Conservatives said the unnamed individual should take a ‘long, hard look’ at themselves and resign.
Meanwhile, there have been complaints that government chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris has kicked the scandal ‘into the long grass’ by referring it to the Parliamentary grievance process rather than taking action.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the vast majority of her male colleagues are ‘delightful’ and ‘committed parliamentarians’
Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to Burnley yesterday) condemned the MP accused of watching porn in the Commons
Ms Trevelyan told Sky News of male MPs: ‘There are a few for whom too much drink, or indeed a sort of, a view that somehow being elected makes them you know, God’s gift to women, that they can suddenly please themselves, that is never OK, that kind of behaviour, disrespect for women.’
She added: ‘Fundamentally, if you’re a bloke, keep your hands in your pockets and behave as you would if you had your daughter in the room.’
However, while Ms Trevelyan described watching porn in the Commons chamber as ‘completely unacceptable’, she declined to say whether the MP should be sacked.
The Trade Secretary said: ‘I haven’t had the chance to talk to the chief whip, and I know the ladies in question who apparently saw this completely, completely inappropriate activity have been encouraged to use the formal system in the House of Commons to be able to report it and I hope very much that they will or indeed have, I don’t know, and that the system will demonstrate if that was the case, exactly what the punishment should be for that sort of inappropriate behaviour.’
She also said she is confident that the Chief Whip will ‘take a decision that’s appropriate’.
MPs have reacted with revulsion to the claims that a Tory MP has been caught by two of his female colleagues watching porn in the House of Commons chamber.
The chief whip has called for the allegations to be investigated by the independent complaints and grievance scheme (ICGS).
However, female Tory MPs voiced their fears that this would mean that the individual wold be given anonymity.
On a visit to Burnley yesterday, the PM told broadcasters: ‘I think it’s obviously unacceptable for anybody to be doing that kind of thing in the workplace.
‘It would be the same for any kind of job up and down the country, let’s be absolutely clear about that.
‘What needs to happen now is that the proper procedures need to be gone through, the independent complaints and grievances procedure needs to be activated and we need to get to understand the facts but, yeah, that kind of behaviour is clearly totally unacceptable.’
Attorney General Suella Braverman said if the MP was found to have been watching adult material it should result in them ‘no longer holding their privileged position as a Member of Parliament’.
She said there was a ‘very small minority of men – and it is men – who fall short and there are some bad apples who are out of order – who behave like animals, and are bringing Parliament into disrepute to be honest’.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: ‘I keep running through my mind how and why someone would be so brazen… so reckless, so stupid, so appallingly badly behaved to be watching porn in the workplace, in broad daylight, in the presence of colleagues.’
The minister said if the claims were found to be true, the whip should be removed and the MP could be expelled or subjected to a recall process.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘There have been several instances of inappropriate and sexist behaviour recently in Parliament. It is shameful.
‘Parliamentarians are public servants and it is their duty to set an example of character and integrity. The culture of Westminster needs to change.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said ‘there’s no place for pornography in any workplace’ and highlighted the need for a cultural change at Westminster.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ‘I certainly think they should lose the whip’ and they could be subject to the recall process.
Tory MP Nickie Aiken said the porn-watching MP ‘has to resign’ from the Commons as she warned that he was causing ‘pain, suffering and embarrassment’ to both the party and Parliament.
He should ‘take a very very long, hard look’ at himself and ask ‘should I still be here?’, she told Times Radio.
Conservative MP Harriett Baldwin also urged the MP to come forward.
She told the Evening Standard: ‘It is absolutely scandalous. I don’t know who this individual is but they certainly should not be sitting on the bench.
‘It would be very wise for this person to come forward and identify themselves so a full independent investigation can take place.
‘Otherwise we may never know who this person is and a finger of suspicion will fall on all men sitting in the Commons benches.’
Other female Tory MPs warned that the ICGS was not the correct forum to handle the complaints against the MP.
It was set up in the wake of Partygate to give political staff a place to anonymously air complaints about MPs.
Chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris called for the independent investigation into the claims after the allegations surfaced during a meeting of Tory MPs at Westminster on Tuesday.
Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris (left) has not removed the whip from the MP in question. MP Nickie Aiken (right) said the Tory MP responsible for watching pornography in the Houses of Parliament should quit
A spokesman for Mr Heaton-Harris said: ‘Following allegations of inappropriate behaviour in the House of Commons the chief whip has asked that this matter be referred to the ICGS.
‘Upon the conclusion of any ICGS investigation the chief whip will take appropriate action.’
Under the ICGS, an investigator would examine the case and Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone would then make a finding.
In a serious case like this a sanction would normally be decided by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which would also hear any appeal.
The IEP could recommend sanctions including expulsion from the Commons or a suspension – which could potentially trigger a by-election under the recall process if it is for longer than 10 sitting days.
Only witnesses to the pornography-viewing could make a complaint about the MP under the ICGS.
The claims about pornography followed reports that 56 MPs, including three Cabinet ministers, are facing allegations of sexual misconduct referred to the ICGS.