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Conduct in Parliament

Parliament is committed to ensuring everone working here feels supported, safe and positive. Parliament's Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) consists of the Behaviour Code, the Bullying and Harassment Policy, and the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

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Our Behaviour Code makes clear the standards of behaviour expected of everyone in the parliamentary community, past or present. There is zero tolerance for abuse or harassment.

An independent review of the ICGS following its first six months has been conducted by Alison Stanley and published.

The first Annual Report on the operation of the scheme was published in October 2019.

Inquiries

House of Commons Service

In 2017, the House of Commons Commission appointed Dame Laura Cox to carry out an inquiry into bullying and harassment in the Commons Service. The Laura Cox report was published on 15 October 2018, and all three of Dame Laura Cox's recommendations have now been implemented.

Progress against Dame Laura's recommendations:

  • The Valuing Others and Respect policies have been permanently suspended.
  • The ICGS is now open to non-recent cases and to former members of the parliamentary community, following a vote in the House of Commons on 17 July 2019
  • In January 2019 the House approved the House of Commons Committee on Standards recommendation that the Commissioner for Standards be allowed to investigate incidents that were more than seven years in the past, without requiring permission from the Committee and that lay members of the Committee be granted equal voting rights with MPs.
  • On 23 June 2020 MPs agreed to establish an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) to determine complaints of bullying and harassment or sexual misconduct under the ICGS, following a recommendation from the House of Commons Commission. The IEP will be entirely independent of MPs, with no MPs taking part in its decisions. In cases where the IEP recommends the most extreme sanctions, such as suspension or expulsion of an MP, the House must approve the recommendation via a motion in the Chamber. Any such motion will be taken without debate.

MPs and MPs' staff

Recognising that the problem is not unique to the Commons Service, an additional inquiry was commissioned on the bullying and harassment of MPs' parliamentary staff. In July 2019, the Gemma White report was published, with the House of Commons Commission making a statement on the outcome. Since the report, the Members Services Team has been created to fulfil the recommendation of a HR service for MPs and their staff and to tackle the sense of isolation felt by MPs' staff, as reported by Gemma White.

House of Lords

In 2018, Naomi Ellenbogen QC was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the nature and extent of bullying and harassment (including sexual harassment and any systemic behaviours) experienced by past and present members of the House of Lords and their staff, and Administration staff employed by the House of Lords. Her report was published on 10 July 2019

The House of Lords Commission made a statement on the report on 18 July .