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Commission statement on Gemma White QC's report

16 July 2019

A Statement from the House of Commons Commission on Gemma White QC's report

The House of Commons Commission welcomes the principles and overall conclusions of the Gemma White report and is pleased that the three-hour debate on Wednesday 17th July will provide the opportunity for MPs to discuss its findings.

Bullying and harassment of MPs’ staff is totally unacceptable and the Commission reiterates its support to anyone in the parliamentary community who has suffered in this way. 

The Commission has already put in place a number of measures before and since Dame Laura Cox QC published her report into bullying and harassment of House staff last October. 

These include: 

  • An Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) was introduced last July, alongside a new Parliamentary Behaviour Code, which can be used by everyone in Parliament, whether staff, members of either House, or visitors.
  • Plans were approved by the Commission to extend the ICGS to cover non-recent cases of bullying and harassment. Subject to agreement by the House on Wednesday, this will come into force in the autumn.
  • Work is underway to make recommendations on the non-involvement of MPs in determining bullying and harassment cases.

However, the Gemma White report, with its focus on the staff of MPs, highlighted not only unacceptable behaviour on the part of a minority of MPs, but also the sense of isolation felt by many of the contributors.   

While the House of Commons does not employ the staff of MPs and agrees with Gemma White that this should not change, we wholeheartedly accept the principle that the arrangements for the employment of MPs’ staff should reflect a modern workplace. We therefore agreed the following: 

  • We will begin consulting unions, IPSA and MPs immediately to see what the implementation issues in the creation of a new HR department might be to provide better support to MPs and to staff 
  • We will also consult on how data regarding the employment of staff could be collated and used to improve employment practices     
  • We urge MPs to approve the Leader's motion to open the ICGS to non-recent cases and to former members of the parliamentary community tomorrow.

Valuing Everyone training has been introduced to ensure everyone working in Parliament is able to recognise bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct - and feels confident taking action to tackle and prevent it. However, the Commission will look at further ways to ensure that all MPs and their staff undertake the training as quickly as possible.

We will issue further announcements on this matter following our next meeting, on 9th September.

Image copyright: iStock

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