The Green Party is calling for MPs to be sent to consent lessons in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment and assault around Westminster.
Caroline Lucas, the party’s co-leader and only Parliamentarian, told the BBC she would like to see ongoing, compulsory training covering consent, appropriate language and professional boundaries for members of the Commons.
In recent days, countless current and former political staffers have come forward, with stories of incidents ranging from persistent inappropriate behaviour to a rape a Labour Party event – which victim Bex Bailey said she was discouraged from reporting.
Greens deputy leader Amelia Womack said as more allegations are unearthed, “it becomes more and more apparent that many have no idea what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace”.
She added: “So many in Westminster are utterly failing to understand the power dynamics at play between male MPs, senior political party figures and other staff like assistants and researchers.
“We’re calling for consent lessons to be part of MPs’ induction into Parliament and ongoing training should be compulsory – starting now. The sooner we can end this epidemic of sexual harassment the better.”
The Greens also want to introduce compulsory consent lessons in schools to tackle the issue from an early age.
Labour MP Stella Creasy has called for all political party staff to get proper training on what to do if staff members come forward with allegations, and there have been calls from across the political spectrum for an independent body to be set up to allow anonymous reporting of inappropriate behaviour in Parliament.
Womack said: “Westminster is far from unique in its failure to tackle harassment, and these measures will not protect women in other workplaces, but it is a step in the right direction.
“Westminster has an opportunity to lead the way and introduce mandatory training to prevent sexual harassment and assault in the first place, alongside robust reporting procedures where perpetrators will be held to account when it does occur.”