‘No evidence’ Tory MPs were bullied into voting on fracking, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle says | Politics News


There is no evidence bullying took place during last month’s controversial Commons vote on fracking, an initial investigation into the incident has found.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle had asked senior parliamentary officials to look into claims Conservative MPs had been manhandled into voting with the government in the dying days of the Liz Truss administration.

A group of senior Tories, including the now-environment secretary Therese Coffey and former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, were accused of bullying fellow MPs into voting against Labour’s motion to ban fracking on 19 October – the day before Ms Truss announced she was stepping down.

There was confusion in the lead-up to the vote, with Tory whips initially saying it was actually a confidence vote in the government so Conservatives had to vote against it. But some were not happy with that as they are vociferously against fracking.

Opposition MPs claimed one Conservative MP was “physically manhandled” into the “no” lobby to ensure he opposed the motion.

But sharing the initial findings of the inquiry with MPs, Sir Lindsay said the “tense” atmosphere and crowding had contributed to the confusion about what had happened.

“The atmosphere was tense and members were raising their voices to make themselves heard, but there is no evidence of any bullying or undue influence placed on other members,” he told the Commons on Tuesday.

“The crowding made it hard to see what was really taking place.

“While some members thought that physical contact was being used to force a member into the lobby, the member concerned has said very clearly that this did not happen.

“Those who had the clearest views of the incident confirmed this.”

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Labour MP describes chaos in Westminster

The Speaker also reminded MPs that taking photos within parliament is forbidden, after some shared photos on social media of MPs crowded within the voting lobbies.

Sir Lindsay said: “Several members took photos during the division, some of which were posted on social media.

“I would like to remind members that taking photos during proceedings is prohibited.

“It is important that we treat each other with respect. I take allegations of bullying extremely seriously.

“I will take swift action wherever necessary to address any improper behaviour in the chamber or in the lobbies.”

Parliamentary authorities interviewed “over 40 members and officials who were there”, Sir Lindsay said as he revealed a full report will be published shortly.

‘I know what I saw’

Labour MP Chris Bryant previously apologised for taking a photo of the incident and sharing it on social media but said he stands by his claim he saw Tory MPs being manhandled into voting with the government.

“I am not challenging the ruling of the Speaker, but I know what I saw and I am not withdrawing a single word,” the chair of the Commons Standards Committee told BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

“It may be that some people feel that they weren’t bullied but I saw intimidatory behaviour.

“If you have 15 or 12 MPs standing round one MP, effectively, to my mind, kettling them, that is intimidatory behaviour and it will be seen as bullying in any other line of work.”

He added that he knew he was breaking the rules at the time and has apologised for that but he thought “sometimes you have to break a rule if you see a greater injustice being done”.

“We are trying to change the culture in parliament,” he said.


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