On 24 October 2018, following the publication of the Dame Laura Cox report, the House of Commons Commission accepted her three principal recommendations, including a specific recommendation that "the House consider the most effective way to ensure that the process for determining complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment brought by House staff against Members of Parliament will be an entirely independent process, in which Members of Parliament will play no part."
The Commission is committed to determining how best to implement all of Dame Laura's recommendations, and create an independent, impartial, thorough, and accessible process, which is fair to all concerned. The Commission has now agreed the following way forward:
1. The creation of a staff team to lead on producing options on implementation for the Commission. This team will include members with procedural and legal knowledge, as well as expertise in the operation of the Independent Complaints and Grievances scheme - as well as any other resource that may be required. They will also work closely with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and may draw on other resources as required.
2. The team will be tasked with consulting specific organisations and individuals, including but not limited to:
- staff focus groups
- the Trades Union side
- trade unions such as MAPSA and Unite
- lay-Members of the Committee on Standards
- party whips
- Dame Laura Cox
- the Chairs of the Standards, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs, Women and Equalities, Liaison and Procedure Committees.
3. The team will also be required to consult with a sounding panel of external experts in relevant areas who will be tasked with challenging their assumptions and conclusions, and scrutinising the options the team produces.
4. These options will be presented to the Commission, who will select their preferred option and then open it for public consultation. This follows a similar process for the Commission's decision on non-recent cases.
Further announcements will be forthcoming, as the team completes its work. The Commission is aware it has been a considerable length of time since Dame Laura first made her recommendation, and progress has not been as rapid as was desired.
The Commission expects to review the options in the autumn, before putting them to the House for consideration. Should the working group be established before then, they will be able to use the team's findings in their work.
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