Closing parliament’s bars in a bid to tackle a culture of sexual misconduct on the estate would be “excessively puritanical”, Kwasi Kwarteng has said.
Speaking on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday programme, the business secretary said that despite concerns regarding excessive drinking taking place on the parliamentary estate, the bars should not be closed.
“No, they shouldn’t all be shut, I don’t think we should have an excessively puritanical severe regime in that regard,” he said.
Mr Kwarteng also admitted that the scheme to deal with sexual misconduct allegations in parliament, which was set up in 2018, “isn’t working sufficiently well” but “needs time to really get going”.
It comes after an MP said he will resign after admitting to watching pornography in the House of Commons.
Neil Parish said he watched adult material twice in parliament, claiming the first time was accidental after looking at tractors online but that the second was “a moment of madness”.
‘It was tractors that I was looking at’: Tory MP says he watched porn accidentally – Politics latest
The 65-year-old farmer had initially vowed to continue as MP for Tiverton and Honiton but said he would quit after recognising the “furore” and “damage” he was causing his family and constituency.
The former MEP had referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, days after two female Tory MPs said they witnessed him watching pornography on his mobile phone on two separate occasions.
A spokesperson for Tiverton and Honiton Conservatives said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Neil Parish for his service to our communities over the past 12 years.
“We support his decision to step down as our member of parliament.”
The scandal comes amid accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct at Westminster.
Asked on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday programme whether there is a culture of misogyny at Westminster, Mr Kwarteng rejected the suggestion.
He said: “I think the problem we have is that people are working in a really intense environment, there are long hours, and I think generally most people know their limits, they know how to act respectfully.
“But there are some instances where people don’t frankly act according to the highest standards.
“With Neil (Parish), I think he did the right thing. He did something which in most other professions you would be sacked for doing and he voluntarily resigned and I think his position was very difficult.”