POLITICS

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Tory Code Of Conduct

11/04/2014 08:46 BST | Updated 11/04/2014 08:59 BST

Here are the five things you need to know on Friday 11 April 2014...

1) TORY CODE OF CONDUCT

Conservative MPs are to be given a new code of conduct setting out guidelines on how they should treat staff working in their offices. Release of the code was held back until after the end of the trial of former deputy speaker Nigel Evans - who was cleared of all charges in a sexual assault and rape trial - to ensure there was no risk of prejudice.

The Conservatives said the code, which is being issued on a voluntary basis, was "a basic statement of what should be best practice in the workplace" for Tory MPs and their staff. It is being circulated alongside a grievance procedure, which is available for staff to use if a grievance arises with an MP as their employer. The new code is being sent out as a Channel 4 News investigation claimed there was a prevailing "climate of sexual harassment" in Parliament.

2) PARLIAMENT'S PROBLEM

The exploitation of vulnerable young parliamentary researchers by predatory MPs is being "brushed under the carpet" by the main political parties, one of the alleged victims of Nigel Evans has claimed. The former deputy speaker was yesterday cleared of a string of alleged sex offences - including one allegation of rape - by a jury at Preston Crown Court.

But one of the men he was alleged to have assaulted has accused the parliamentary authorities of ignoring a problem that was widespread at Westminster.

"I don't think any of the main parties know what to do. The strange (thing) about Parliament is that they make the laws but they don't act like any other place of business," the man, who has not been named, told BBC2's Newsnight.

"Researchers and MPs' staff don't even have a HR department. Our bosses are technically self-employed. Even though we work in one big building together there was no mechanism to deal with this problem. There still isn't. They (the parties) were certainly aware that there are MPs and young, 20-something researchers who are vulnerable because they fear for their careers and all the hard work that they do could just be thrown away in an instant. I think that a lot of senior people count on that - that it can be brushed under the carpet.

3) EVANS BACK AS DEPUTY SPEAKER?

Many Conservative MPs have welcomed the Evans verdict and want him back in the fold as soon as possible. There is even a campaign to get him reinstated as deputy speaker. Morecambe & Lunesdale MP David Morris has written to the Speaker to press the case.

“Nigel has been a fantastic Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, I was saddened to see him step down in September of last year. I would love to see him resume his post, which is why I have decided to lead the campaign to have him reinstated as the Deputy Speaker," he said.

The move is a bit awkward though, as there is no vacancy. Having Evans back would mean forcing Eleanor Laing to step down.

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4) SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE VOTE 'NECK AND NECK'

Support for Scottish independence is "virtually neck and neck" with backing for remaining in the UK, a leading Nationalist claimed. Derek Mackay, a Scottish Government minister and the SNP's business convener, insisted support for a Yes vote had "grown significantly" and said it is now "game on" for the referendum campaign.He was speaking as members of the SNP gathered in Aberdeen for the party's spring conference - the last event of its kind before the vote on Scotland's future in September. And The Guardian reports that foreign diplomats believe Scotland is likely to vote for independence after a series of opinion polls have shown an increase in support for a yes vote in September's referendum.

5) CLINTON DODGES SHOE

Hillary Clinton ducked a thrown shoe, expressed surprise, cracked a couple of jokes that drew applause and continued her keynote speech on stage in front of a Las Vegas convention audience.

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