Commons authorities must take action after Ferrier case

2 October 2020

Following the entirely unacceptable behaviour of Margaret Ferrier in knowingly travelling to the House of Commons when she may have had COVID, Prospect is calling on House authorities to suspend the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West from the House.

The parliamentary union is also demanding clarity on what action is being taken to trace where on the estate Margaret Ferrier has been, who she has come into contact with, and ensure the necessary screening to protect any further transmission. After such a serious breach of COVID rules and wilful disregard for the safety of colleagues and staff, The House authorities must demonstrate promptly that they will take all possible measures to protect their employees.

Prospect is demanding that:

  • Parliamentary authorities ensure Margaret Ferrier’s movements in the House are comprehensively tracked and followed up
  • Anyone Margaret Ferrier has come into contact with be offered a COVID test
  • House authorities suspend Margaret Ferrier from the House to send a signal that such wilful disregard for the rules, the law , and for the safety of others, will not be tolerated
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards carry out an immediate and swift investigation as to whether Ferrier’ actions breached the Code of Conduct

This case follows a joint parliamentary union letter earlier in the week asking that the House return to virtual sittings until the current up-trend in COVID cases is brought under control.

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said:

“Such casual disregard for the COVID rules, the rule of law and for the safety of hardworking staff and colleagues and the travelling public demonstrates a contempt for the safety of others. Who knows how many members of staff and others have been put at risk because of these actions.

“Her own party has acted swiftly on this but as an employer the House of Commons authorities need to send a clear signal and suspend Ms Ferrier from the House. Anyone in a normal place of work who did this would be suspended immediately and be facing the most serious of disciplinary sanctions. Our seat of government should be no different.

“We urgently need to know where Ms Ferrier has been, who she has been in contact with and appropriate public health measures taken.

“This episode also highlights how fragile the functional operation of the House is when the pandemic is on the surge. Parliamentary unions have concerns about the COVID security of the estate and with cases on the rise perhaps it is time for a return to virtual sittings so any risk can be minimised.”