The House of Commons Commission met on 20 May 2019 and discussed the issue of non-recent complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.
They agreed unanimously to consult on the following proposal for dealing with non-recent cases, by using the existing ICGS scheme, and employing specialist investigators for both assessing and investigating non-recent (and recent) cases:
- The complainant would initially call one of the Helplines (either the Independent bullying and Harassment Reporting Helpline or the Independent Sexual Misconduct Advisory Service) and be offered support, including access to the Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service;
- Appropriately skilled and experienced investigators would be employed to investigate non-recent cases;
- By using the ICGS scheme, non-recent cases would be treated in the same way as current cases throughout the whole procedure, with the same assessors, the same steps, and the same decision-makers;
- The ICGS allows for informal resolution at any stage and, as Dame Laura Cox states in paragraph 336 of her report, not all cases are disputed. An apology might be the informal resolution that the complainant is seeking.
- Both non-recent and current cases would be covered by the ICGS, ensuring equality of process;
- The current ICGS system would be strengthened, by adding to the pool of available expertise, knowledge, skills and experience;
- This would promote consistency of reporting and investigation, for both complainants and respondents;
- A panel (consisting, for example, of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, an external representative, Speaker’s Counsel and a lay member of the Committee on Standards, observed by a member of the TUS) could interview and choose high-quality, experienced candidates for the roles of investigators, who have the appropriate skillset to deal with non-recent and recent cases;
- It would be simple to incorporate any future changes to the system, arising from Alison Stanley’s six-month review of the ICGS scheme;
- This proposal follows Dame Laura Cox’s recommendations (as set out in paras 312 to 349 of her report).
The issue of reparation will be dealt with separately by the House Service.
Ensuring that the system of dealing with non-recent cases is trusted by all is a crucial step in changing Parliament’s culture for good. We are eager to hear from a diverse range of voices and views before the proposal is taken to the House. Please respond to any aspect of the proposal.
This proposal is now open for public consultation until 6pm, Friday 14 June. Please email: email@example.com
Post: ICGS, 1st Floor Richmond House, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA