Protection for Members of Parliament

House of Commons Commission – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

What support and protection is available for Members who have experienced threats and other forms of intimidation.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I will read quite a long answer into the record.

It is essential that Members and their staff can perform their parliamentary duties safely and securely, both on and off the estate. The Commission considers that to be of the highest importance. Members should report immediate threats to the police on 999. Members can report any other threats, whether online, on the street or in their constituency, to the parliamentary liaison and investigations team of police officers based on the estate.

The House administration recognise that threats and intimidation can impact MPs’ emotional health and wellbeing. The parliamentary health and wellbeing service offers direct psychological support for Members, such as counselling and a confidential helpline, and assistance to family members who live with a Member of Parliament. Occupational health experts in the team are always on hand to support Members who might be subject to threat.

While we do not discuss security measures on the Floor of the House, I confirm that the Parliamentary Security Department supports Members with a range of other processes, which are kept under continuous review. I shall briefly cover those, Mr Speaker, and then come to a close. It provides protection at Members’ homes and constituency offices, and can provide security operatives for constituency surgeries and Members’ other parliamentary duties off the estate. It gives Members tailored advice for their individual circumstances. That includes security and situational awareness training, which is available to all MPs, their families, and staff. Members can access hands-on cyber-security advice for their personal mobile phones. A team monitors social media and other open-source sites for threats to Parliament or Members. As a member of the consultative panel on parliamentary security, this cause is close to my heart and I will continue to champion it as a member of the House of Commons Commission.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Some Members of the House will know that I had a death threat. A gentleman was arrested and went into a mental institution. When he was released, the House authorities and the Met police met me and said, “This gentleman is now out and he knows where you live.” I listened very intently to what the hon. Gentleman said, but that was the last I heard. I am a person who watches where he walks and does not stand by the side of the platform on the tube. I alter my way of coming into the House. It is very stressful. I have to say that in all that has been said by the hon. Gentleman— I know that he believes it and is passionate about it—there does not feel like there is very much for those on the receiving end.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of his question. I am so sorry that he has experienced this after giving more than 40 years of service to this Parliament and this country. I will endeavour to meet him next week with security officials to go through his concerns one by one. I hope to see him at a meeting next week if he is free.