MPs warned not to ‘inflame’ gender debate after accusations of misinformation

MPs need to be careful about the way they speak, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said after a Tory MP was accused of spreading misinformation about the debate surrounding the Scottish Government’s gender reforms.

Stoke on Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis suggested people involved in the debate over Holyrood’s gender recognition reforms were facing “violent abuse” from members of the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament.

In the Commons, Sir Lindsay said MPs need to “think long and hard” about how they speak in the chamber as their language “can be reflected in a way that I do not wish to see”.

Jonathan Gullis
Jonathan Gullis (Belinda Jiao/PA)

As Scotland Secretary Alister Jack set out the Government’s reason for intervening on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, Mr Gullis said: “I want to also place on record my support for the heroines such as JK Rowling and others, who stand up despite the continued aggression and violent abuse they receive from certain people in this place and across the Scottish Parliament.”

He asked: “Does the Secretary of State agree with me this is simply about protecting young girls and women to their right to having safety in single-sex spaces, and this politicisation of that is an absolute abomination?”

Mr Jack replied: “Well, it is. It is also about protecting the devolution settlement and two UK-wide acts.”

Raising a point of order, SNP MP Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire) later said: “I seek your advice as to what options are open to correct the record after the member for Stoke on Trent North, who is no longer in his place, spread misinformation in his question that people in this House and in Holyrood are inciting violence on the issue of the GRR (Gender Recognition Reform Bill).”

Sir Lindsay responded: “That is a matter of opinion but what I would say, I really do recommend that members are very careful in the language that they use, and it is important that we show tolerance but more importantly that we show respect to each other.”

The Commons Speaker added: “Nothing should inflame the tensions that will already be running high.

“I thank her for raising that point with me. I do say to all members, please think long and hard before you speak because messages that you say in this House can be reflected in a way that I do not wish to see.”

The debate was marked by high tempers, with MPs often shouting across others during speeches they disagreed with.