POLITICS
23/05/2018 19:39 BST

BAME Labour MP Rupa Huq Says She Is Stopped By Westminster Security On 'Daily Basis'

British Bangladeshi claims people of colour are treated with suspicion in Parliament.

Labour MP Rupa Huq has said she is stopped by Westminster security staff on a “daily basis” due to an “in-built suspicion” of people of colour. 

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on police stop-and-search powers, the British Bangladeshi said BAME MPs regularly have their access to the House of Commons estate questioned. 

She said: “Because of our pigmentation, we are treated differently. The in-built suspicion of people and the idea that they can be stopped while going about their lawful business pervades all levels of society.

“And I can state here today that I have been stopped more times in this place since my election in 2015 than I ever had in 43 years outside. 

“This still occurs on a daily basis, presumably because my face does not fit.” 

Huq said a parliamentary police officer complained about her response when she objected to being stopped. 

“I have the correct pass, and the last time I gave the rejoinder that I had every right to be here, a complaint was made against me through the office of the Serjeant at Arms,” she said. “We all face that kind of thing.” 

The Ealing Central and Acton MP is not the first to raise concerns about racism in Parliament. 

Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler revealed last year that a fellow MP mistook her for a cleaner when she was attempting to use a lift reserved for parliamentarians. 

“Yes - God, there are so many incidents,” Butler told Radio Five Live at the time.

Nicola Tree via Getty Images
Labour MP Dawn Butler, shadow minister for Women and Equalities

The debate on Wednesday was led by Huq’s fellow Labour MP Naz Shah who said that she supported more targeted, intelligence-led stop-and-search measures. 

But, she said, stop-and-search tactics were set “more by the culture set by chief officers than by local crime trends”. 

She said: “Evidence shows that stop-and-search is a blunt tool for the prevention and detection of crime, and has a profoundly negative impact on police-community relations.

“Home Office research in 2000 showed that stop-and-search had only a marginal role in combating crime, because its use was not linked to patterns of crime, and that searches for drugs were fuelling unproductive searches of ethnic minorities, particularly young black men.” 

But Tory MP Philip Davies said, amid a sharp rise in knife crime that has recorded a majority of its perpetrators and victims from BAME communities, that people were demanding more stop-and-search measures.  

He said: “As a result of this politically correct chatter about stop-and-search, the number of stop-and-searches has reduced dramatically.

“One reason is that the police fear stopping and searching people in case they are branded racist.”