Autistic MP Jared O'Mara ‘can’t attend PMQs because of aggression and shouting’

Posted On: 
23rd October 2018

An autistic MP has said that high levels of 'heckling and aggression' at Prime Minister's Questions have made it impossible for him to attend.

Mr O'Mara said the shouting and noise at rowdy PMQs made it hard for people with autism to attend

Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara has called on Speaker John Bercow to adjust the way he chairs the weekly grilling of the Prime Minister in an attempt to limit the loud shouting and rowdy behaviour of MPs.

Mr O’Mara was absent from Parliament for a number of months while the Labour party carried out a disciplinary probe into a string of misogynistic and homophobic comments he made in his 20s.

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He later resigned the Labour whip after being reinstated to the party earlier this year.

But the now independent MP said his autism was the reason he had attended only one PMQs session since his election in June 2017.

“So far my autism has not been taken into account by Parliament,” he told MPs, during a Westminster Hall debate on Monay evening.

“I have asked for adjustments from the Speaker’s Office so that I can comfortably speak in the chamber, because with things such as shouting, when everyone is heckling, the aggression and the loud noises mean I cannot cope.

“I have only been to Prime Minister’s Questions once because of all the shouting.”

Mr O’Mara, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, was the driving force behind a rule change which saw requirements for male MPs to wear a tie while in the Common’s chamber dumped because he said coordination issues caused by the disease made it difficult for him to wear one.

He added that he was “hurt” when several Labour MPs used the relaxing of the rule to launch abuse at Tory MP James Duddridge who they branded a “scruff” for not wearing a tie during a debate.

“Imagine how much that hurt me. I turned around and looked and them and shook my head, but I may as well have been invisible,” Mr O'Mara said.

The former Labour MP also hit out at Jeremy Corbyn for failing to do more to accommodate his disabilities in Parliament, saying that the leadership had made the “sum total of one adjustment” by providing him with an office close to the Commons chamber.