The Cabinet minister claimed it was a safe place for women to work as he backed the resignation of Tory colleague Neil Parish for twice watching pornography in the Commons.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng said: “I don’t think there is a culture of misogyny. I think the problem we have is people are working in a really intense environment, there are long hours and I think generally most people know their limits.”
He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show Parliament was a safe place for women to work, adding: “I think we’ve got to distinguish between some bad apples, people who behave badly, and the general environment.
“There are some bad apples, there are people who have acted very badly, and they should be held to account.”
His comments came amid claims a senior MP was repeatedly licking the faces of researchers in parliamentary bars, a minister was overheard having sex in his office, an MP was warned over his use of prostitutes, and a female Tory was sent a “d**k pic” by a colleague.
Mr Kwarteng accepted the allegations were “extraordinary and unacceptable”, but ruled out closing Parliament’s many bars to tackle the sleaze.
He said: “No, they shouldn’t all be shut. I don’t think we should have an excessively puritanical, severe regime in that regard.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is now calling for “radical” reform to working practices after a string of bullying and sexual misconduct offences involving MPs.
The incidents have triggered women working in Westminster to share accounts of their treatment, with Cabinet ministers describing men acting like “animals”.
Senior Conservative Caroline Nokes, who chairs the women and equalities committee, has accused the Tories of “institutional sexism”.
It was the latest in a series of damning developments that have dogged the Commons in recent weeks.
Three Cabinet ministers are among 56 MPs reportedly facing allegations of sexual misconduct that have been referred to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme.