A HAMPSHIRE MP voted against amendments to the policy for excluding MPs due to fears it “could harm democracy”.

A proposal went before the House of Commons which stated that MPs should be excluded Parliament at the point of arrest for serious sexual or violent offences.

MPs voted 170 to 169, majority one, in favour of the amendment designed to reinstate the original intention of the policy, that MPs would be barred from entering Parliament only when they were charged.

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Flick Drummond, MP for the Meon Valley, voted against the amendment, so MPs would be barred on charge, not arrest.

She told the Chronicle: “This was a difficult decision, but on balance I voted against the amendment because I would want to see exclusion on the basis of a criminal charge and not simply an arrest.

“This keeps more closely due process in my view, protects democracy from interference and would allow those MPs to continue to represent their constituents – an important consideration.

“Exclusion on arrest is also problematic when you consider how long it can sometimes take for someone to be charged these days. This leaves MPs, who have not yet even been alleged to have done anything wrong, unable to do their job perhaps for months or longer and constituents missing out.

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester MP Steve Brine was not present for the voteWinchester MP Steve Brine was not present for the vote (Image: Steve Brine)

“There is also the issue of vexatious allegations that would remove an MP perhaps conveniently for some, and with no reasonable prospect of a charge. Again, this could harm democracy.”

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, was not present for the vote, as he was in Sweden with the Health Select Committee.

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Hampshire Chronicle: Caroline Nokes MP voted in favour of the amendmentsCaroline Nokes MP voted in favour of the amendments (Image: PA)

MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes, was one of eight Conservative MPs to vote in favour of the amendment.

She said: “I believe the House of Commons should follow the example of the Police, who suspend officers on arrest, not charge, as do the SRA, the Teachers Regulation Agency and numerous businesses in the private sector.

“I have listened to the personal accounts of colleagues and staff and believe if we are to set legislation by which others will be bound then we too should be held to the highest standards.”