THREE Tory Cabinet ministers could lose their jobs for sexual misconduct if complaints against them are upheld, MPs have heard.

The Prime Minister was told 56 MPs, including three members of his own Cabinet, are currently under investigation by the House of Commons for sexual misconduct. The names of those under investigation were not given to MPs.

Boris Johnson was given the update by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, pictured below, in the Commons chamber this afternoon.

HeraldScotland:

She asked him if the complaints against the ministers were upheld whether this would be grounds for them to be sacked.

Ms Lucas raised the issue at Prime Ministers Questions three days after an unnamed Tory was condemned for making a "Basic Instinct" slur about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. The remarks by the unknown Conservative have been widely attacked including by Mr Johnson.

The MP told the Commons: "Fifty six member of this House are under investigation for sexual misconduct and that includes three of his Cabinet ministers.

"The Prime Minister has said there can be no place for sexism and misogyny in this House. So can he now confirm whether he considers whether sexual harassment apparently unlike bullying and lying is grounds for dismissal under the ministerial code."

READ MORE: Westminster sketch: House of Commons should be no place for any sort of thrills – pornographic or otherwise

Mr Johnson said: "Of course sexual harassment is intolerable, and it is quite right that members should now have a procedure whereby they can bring it to the attention of the House authorities. I think that that is a good thing, and of course sexual harassment is grounds for dismissal."

The exchange comes after the Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the 56 MPs had been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) over about 70 separate complaints.

The allegations involving the 56 include making sexually inappropriate comments and more serious wrongdoing, the paper reported. At least one complaint is believed to involve criminality and concerns an allegation than an MP bribed a member of staff in return for sexual favours.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the Commons, was reported to be concerned by the number of complaints and is preparing to launch a review of working practices in parliament.

MPs employ their own staff directly and deal with human resources problems themselves, meaning it can be difficult for employees to challenge inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

The ICGS was set up in 2018 in the wake of the “Pestminster” scandal and the #MeToo movement. Charlie Elphicke was among the MPs who faced allegations of sexual impropriety.

He was jailed later for two years after being convicted of three charges of sexual assault.

Two of the cases involved a parliamentary worker in 2016 and one was in relation to a woman at his family’s central London home in 2007.

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union, which represents civil servants, said at the weekend: “While some of the procedures for raising complaints have improved, the fundamental balance of power between MPs and the staff they employ has not.

“Where that exists it will inevitably be exploited, either by those who do not have the skills to manage staff effectively, or those with more malevolent intent. It can come as no surprise, therefore, that if the circumstances that allowed bullying and harassment to flourish have not changed fundamentally.

“Parliamentary authorities need to address the fundamental causes of bullying and harassment, rather than simply rely on an enforcement mechanism that only protects those who feel able to raise complaints."

Earlier at Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Mr Johnson to agree there was “no place” for misogyny in modern Britain.

Sir Keir said: “I know the Prime Minister will have whipped his backbenchers to scream and shout and that is fine. But I hope he has also sent a clear message that there is no place for sexism and misogyny or looking down on people because of where they come from in his party, in this House, or in modern Britain.”

Mr Johnson replied that he had “exchanged messages” with the Labour deputy leader at the weekend after a Mail On Sunday article about her.

He added: “I repeat what I said to her, there can be absolutely no place for such behaviour or such expression in this House and we should treat each other frankly, with the respect that each other deserves.”

Ms Rayner has criticised the Daily Mail for suggesting “I somehow enjoy being subjected to sexist slurs” during the row over comments made by Tory MPs.

She tweeted: “As women we sometimes try to brush aside the sexism we face, but that doesn’t make it ok. The Mail implies today that I somehow enjoy being subjected to sexist slurs. I don’t. They are mortifying and deeply hurtful.

“‘She loves it really’ is a typical excuse so many women are familiar with. But it can’t be women’s responsibility to call it out every time. I don’t need anyone to explain sexism to me – I experience it every day.

“Boris Johnson gave assurances he would unleash ‘the terrors of the earth’ on the Tory MPs spreading this vile sexism. I hope to hear what he’ll be doing about it today.”