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Parliament publishes latest independent review of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

13 May 2024

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Parliament has today published the findings of the latest independent review into the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS). The scheme is responsible for investigating claims of bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct in Parliament.

Building on from the reviews carried out by Alison Stanley CBE in 2019 and 2021 Paul Kernaghan has now delivered the latest evaluation of the scheme.

The ICGS provides over 15,000 people within the parliamentary community - including staff of both Houses, MPs, Peers, and their staff - with confidential advice and support through an independent helpline, as well as the means to make a complaint of bullying, harassment and/or sexual misconduct. It is the first scheme of its kind in any legislature across the world and has been an important step forward in tackling inappropriate behaviour in Parliament.

You can read the full review here:

The key recommendations include:

  • Re-establishing the ICGS Assurance Group as a permanent ICGS Assurance Board, with the authority to approve changes to ICGS processes and scrutinise the ICGS Director. [Recommendation 2]
  • Individuals who submit a complaint to a political party, whose allegations fall within the scope of the ICGS, should be directed to the ICGS. [Recommendation 3]
  • Several recommendations focussing on improving efficiency. [Recommendations 4-7]
  • Establishing a formal protocol setting out how the Parliamentary authorities can identify and manage risks to the parliamentary community. [Recommendation 12]
  • Provide health and wellbeing support for the complainant and respondent in every ICGS case. [Recommendation 20]
  • Members should be required to complete mandatory training on Parliament’s Behaviour Code, within six months of their election or re-election. [Recommendation 24]
  • Explore the issue of representing the ICGS in the public domain, with a view of devising a communications strategy. [Recommendation 25]

The independent reviewer, Paul Kernaghan, said:

“This review follows on from two conducted by Alison Stanley CBE in 2019 and 2021 and builds on that work. However, the ICGS has now been in existence for five years and this review reflects the greater maturity of the scheme.

“The ICGS was set up with a view to tackling the particular challenges that occur in a legislature. The scheme is making a difference, and has demonstrated its ability to hold people to account for unacceptable behaviour.

“The parliamentary community should take pride in the work and achievements of the ICGS to date. I am confident that it is on the right path to deliver an ever more effective service. I hope that my recommendations will result in further improvements to the scheme, whose very creation was a significant achievement.”

Director of the ICGS, Thea Walton, said:

“I welcome this report and Paul Kernaghan’s recognition that the ICGS has matured and developed since the two Alison Stanley reviews were completed.

"I am grateful to Paul and his team for their work. This review endorses many of the changes that my team has put in place to streamline ICGS processes and procedures, and improve the experience for everyone who uses the scheme.

"I hope that this endorsement and Paul’s recommendations will help to further promote confidence and trust in the ICGS.”

Paul Kernaghan’s review acknowledges the maturity of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) – now in its fifth year – as well as the hard work carried out by the team under Director Thea Walton.

The Commissions of the House of Commons and House of Lords will now take the necessary time to discuss the review’s recommendations. This will form the basis for an implementation programme carried out by the ICGS and other stakeholders.