A culture of long hours and drinking can create a “toxic mix” in Parliament, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said, as female MPs share experiences of alleged sexism and harassment.

A Labour MP has said she was told by a shadow minister in lewd language that men wanted to sleep with her.

And a minister has reported a Conservative colleague for watching porn in the Commons chamber.

Ex-minister Baroness Nicky Morgan described the claim as “a jaw-dropper”.

“If this happened in any other working place somebody would be sacked for gross misconduct,” she said but added that for MPs, “the only people who can hold you to account are your electorate”.

“There are no employment contracts, nobody is going to take their job away from them – that gives MPs a feeling of invincibility,” the Conservative former MP said.

The allegation that a Conservative MP watched pornography in the Commons was made at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Chris Heaton-Harris – the government’s chief whip – looked into the matter, but has now referred it to Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Wallace said pornography in the workplace was “unacceptable” and that he hoped action would be taken if the claim was proven.

Asked about Parliament’s working environment, he said: “The problem in the House of Commons is ultimately the overall culture of long hours, bars and people sometimes under pressure and after all of that, that can create a toxic mix that leads to all sorts of things.”

He also said many people were “away from home” and had challenges in their own lives including being “under threat”.

He added that he didn’t believe Parliament was institutionally sexist and that it was a safe place for women to work.

However, he said the institution faced a challenge and praised Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for “trying to fix the culture”.

Angela Rayner says the “sexist slurs” were “mortifying and deeply hurtful”.

Mr Wallace was speaking after a Labour MP who wished to remain anonymous told the BBC a member of the shadow cabinet had described her as the party’s “secret weapon” adding, in graphic language, that women want to be her friend and men want to sleep with her.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously. They are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate action is taken.”

Earlier this week, politicians across the parties condemned a suggestion made in a newspaper that Labour’s Angela Rayner tries to distract Boris Johnson in the Commons by crossing and uncrossing her legs.

On Wednesday, Green MP Caroline Lucas cited a report in The Sunday Times that said a total of 56 MPs, including three cabinet ministers, were facing allegations of sexual misconduct after being reported to the ICGS, and asked the prime minister whether such behaviour was grounds for dismissal under the ministerial code.

Mr Johnson replied that sexual harassment was “of course…grounds for dismissal”.

Boris Johnson says sexual harassment is “intolerable” and constitutes “grounds for dismissal”

The current complaints scheme – the ICGS – was set up in 2018 following complaints about how claims of sexual harassment by MPs were dealt with.

The new procedure removes MPs from the process of judging whether one of their colleagues had breached rules on bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct.

Under the process, an independent panel can recommend sanctions if an MP is found guilty. If it recommends suspending an MP from the Houses of Parliaments, this would need to be approved by MPs.

If an MP is suspended for at least 10 days, their constituents can demand a by-election through a recall petition.

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