A Conservative MP has said she was asked not to attend a Scout event due to “controversial incidents” that have taken place.
Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton told the Commons one of the organisation’s district commissioners requested she avoid the occasion so its “non-political” message would not be “muddied by recent controversial incidents and policies”.
Commons leader Mark Spencer said he was “disappointed” by what Ms Atherton said as the Scouts is a “non-political organisation that shouldn’t get involved and traditionally has not got involved in politics”.
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The Conservative MP, who has previously attended a Scouts event in her constituency without incident, said she is not sure which incidents or policies were being referred to in the email which asked her not to attend the event.
A spokesperson for the Scouts told the PA news agency that their local volunteer “withdrew an invitation to their local MP based on the feelings of their local community”.
Ms Atherton told PA she had been planning to attend a celebration on 14 April to congratulate Wrexham Scouts for helping the Maelor Voluntary Service – which she said is a charity she supports and which provides a cafe service at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
She said she received the email asking her to avoid the occasion “a few hours before I was due to go”.
“I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Scouting movement, either as an MP and prior,” Ms Atherton told MPs.
“Indeed, my son achieved the Queen’s Scout Award.
“But, however, last week the district commissioner asked me not to attend an event, and I quote: ‘The Scouts is a non-political movement. I would not wish this positive message to be muddied by recent controversial incidents and policies.'”
The MP later told PA: “I was absolutely shocked, floored, and really, really disappointed, particularly with our support for them in the past and all the years I’ve been supporting the Scouting movement. I suspect this is one person’s political bias spoiling it for everybody else,” she said.
“I think it’s a shame. I think perhaps the district commissioner should realise what the role of the Member of Parliament actually is, and recognise all the support I have given the Scouting movement not just in Wrexham but over the years. My son was in the Scouts, I was in the Brownies, and my husband was in the Scouts – we’re very pro supporting this.”
Mr Spencer replied: “I think colleagues across the House will recognise the great contribution that Scouting makes to young people in this country.
“As a former cub and scout myself, I thoroughly enjoyed my time.
“And I hope the leader who wrote to her will reflect upon his comments and encourage colleagues across the House to engage with the Scouting movement.”
A spokesperson for the Scouts told PA: “Scout groups reflect the communities where they operate. In this case our local volunteer withdrew an invitation to their local MP based on the feelings of their local community.
“Scouting does not support any one political party and regularly engages with representatives from across the political spectrum.”