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MPs complaints (2020)

Request

1) The number of complaints submitted against Members of Parliament by both their staff and members of the public since 2000 (or the earliest data available) to date broken down into years.

2) If possible, I would like the data to be broken down so that it shows:
• The number of complaints per year;
• The party affiliation of the MPs who have received complaints;
• What the complaints relate to (this can be shown using whatever method of coding a complaint is used by the House of Commons);
• The outcome of every complaint (upheld or dismissed).

 

Response

1) The number of complaints submitted against Members of Parliament by both their staff and members of the public since 2000 (or the earliest data available) to date broken down into years.

2) If possible, I would like the date to be broken down so that it shows:
• The number of complaints per year;
• The party affiliation of the MPs who have received complaints;
• What the complaints relate to (this can be shown using whatever method of coding a complaint is used by the House of Commons);
• The outcome of the complaint (upheld or dismissed).

Some information is held by the House of Commons in relation to your request.

In the first instance, it may help you to know how complaints against Members of Parliament may be submitted. For the time period over which information is held, there have been a number of routes for this:

• The Respect Policy – for staff of the House of Commons to complain about the behaviour of Members or their staff. The Policy commenced in June 2011 and was permanently suspended in October 2018;
• The Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS) – implemented in July 2018, for any individual to make complaints about bullying and harassment or sexual misconduct committed by anyone in the Parliamentary community (including Members);
• The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS) – investigates allegations, which can be submitted by any individual, that Members have breached their Code of Conduct; and
• Members’ HR Advice Service – provides confidential advice to Members of Parliament in their role as employers. However, Members are not required to consult the service and it does not handle complaints against MPs as a matter of course.
• The Police – for any individual to make a complaint about the potentially criminal behaviour of another person;

Please note that we do not keep records indefinitely, and information is routinely disposed of in accordance with Parliament’s agreed record retention policy.

Complaints under the Respect Policy

In accordance with our records disposal policy, the House of Commons would only hold records of formal complaints made under the Respect Policy from 2014 onwards. Within this timeframe, no record is held of any formal complaints where a Member was the respondent.

Complaints under the ICGS

Under the ICGS, anyone in the parliamentary community can contact the Scheme to complain about the behaviour of others, if it might constitute either bullying or harassment, or sexual misconduct. If a complaint being made is eligible under either the Bullying and Harassment Policy or the Sexual Misconduct Policy, an investigation is started. The House of Commons holds records of all complaints made under the ICGS since its implementation in July 2018.

The information you have requested, for complaints where a Member is the respondent. The party affiliation of Members is not recorded in relation to complaints under ICGS.


Some information in the table has been redacted, including relevant policy for and the outcome of some investigations. In the latter case, the outcome of these investigations falls into categories other than those listed, such as ‘no case to answer’, ‘withdrawn’ or ‘ineligible’.

This information has been redacted because, owing to the low numbers of individuals involved (fewer than 5), disclosing this data may make it possible for individuals to be identified. This information is therefore exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in Article 5 of the General Data Protection Regulations. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Complaints made to the PCS

The House of Commons holds information about allegations made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS). The remit of the PCS is such that investigations can only be carried out in relation to paragraphs 10 to 18 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct.

The number of investigations carried out by the PCS and their outcome is held by the House of Commons and is already available from a public source. This information is exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 21(1) and (2)(a) FOIA, which removes a public authority from the obligation to provide access to information which is already in the public domain. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply. However, it may help you to know this information can be found in the PCS’s Annual Reports, which are published on our parliamentary pages.

The party affiliation of Members is not recorded in relation to allegations to the PCS.

The subject of allegations made to the PCS is held by the House of Commons. For allegations which are investigated, this information is already available from a public source, and in turn is again exempt under section 21 FOIA. However, it may help you to know that this information can be found on the PCS pages of parliament.uk website.

Any other information the PCS holds and has not already published in relation to your request is subject to parliamentary privilege, and is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 34(1) FOIA. The exemption applies in order to avoid an infringement of the privileges of the House of Commons. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Complaints made to the Members’ HR Advice Service:

The House holds records of some matters for which Members have sought advice from the Members' HR Advice Service. This may include details of complaints by Members or the staff they employ related to bullying, harassment or sexual harassment, as the House can advise Members on how to resolve those issues if required. However, as there is no obligation for Members to contact the service, records may be incomplete. There is also no distinction drawn in the records between who the complaint is about.

As the Members’ HR Advice Service no longer collects this information, the only record of historic figures is on the House of Commons FOI disclosures webpage. As this is also limited by our records retention policy, we only retain this information for 5 years. The information we still hold is therefore available from a public source, and in turn is exempt from disclosure in accordance with section 21(1) and (2)(a) FOIA, which removes a public authority from the obligation to provide access to information which is already in the public domain. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

However, it may help you to know that information relevant to your request can be found on our Disclosures pages on the parliamentary website.

Complaints made to the Police:

This information is not held by the House of Commons.

The Metropolitan Police Service hold information on all notifiable offences on the parliamentary estate, which may be related to complaints against Members. This information is published on a quarterly basis and is available to view on their website, therefore you may wish to redirect your request to them.