UK Politics

Labour's Kate Green to head Commons standards committee

Kate Green MP
Image caption Ms Green says she is honoured to have been elected to the role

A Labour MP who voted against a probe into allegations of bullying by Speaker John Bercow has been elected as chair of the Commons standards committee.

Kate Green was one of three MPs to oppose an inquiry by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards into claims against Mr Bercow, which he denies.

She was elected unopposed to the body after no other candidate came forward.

A report on Monday claimed harassment of Commons staff had been "tolerated and concealed" for some time.

The Commons authorities needed to make radical changes to workplace culture, the report's author Dame Laura Cox said, to show they understood the seriousness of the problem.

The report, which will be debated by MPs on Tuesday, alleged sexual harassment by MPs of women who say they were "inappropriately touched" and "repeatedly propositioned".

A spokeswoman for Mr Bercow said he would call a meeting of the House of Commons Commission, which he chairs, at the earliest opportunity to discuss the authorities' response.

In May, the standards committee voted by three to two that Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone should not hold an investigation into Mr Bercow's own conduct following a complaint by an MP.

It followed allegations by the Speaker's former private secretary, Angus Sinclair, that Mr Bercow shouted and swore at him, and attempted to physically intimidate him - claims he strongly denied.

The standards committee ruled that the matter, which initially came to light through a BBC Newsnight investigation, was within the remit of the commissioner, but decided not to take any further action.

The main reason it gave was that the allegations dated back more than seven years and such historical cases should only be pursued in "exceptional circumstances".

Ms Green succeeds fellow Labour MP Sir Kevin Barron in chairing the committee, which oversees the work of the standards commissioner and considers any complaints against MPs and decides appropriate sanctions.

Only Labour MPs were eligible to stand in the election and Ms Green, who has sat on the committee for the past year, was the sole MP to be nominated.

In her candidate's statement, the MP for Stretford and Urmston - who was backed by all other MPs on the committee - said she was committed to strengthening the system of self-regulation of MPs' conduct at a time when "we face new challenges and expectations of MPs' behaviour".

She said she was keen to work with other bodies to ensure the success and credibility of the new behaviour code for MPs and the Independent Complaints and Grievance Procedure - brought in earlier this year in response to allegations of inappropriate behaviour by MPs and senior Commons officials.

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