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Complaints of inappropriate behaviour (2017)

Request

  1. How many complaints of sexual harassment or assault by MPs or parliamentary staff have you received in 2015? 2016? 2017?
  2. Of the above (and for each year) how many complaints resulted in some form of disciplinary action?
  3. How many complaints of bullying by MPs or parliamentary staff have you received in 2015? 2016? 2017?
  4. Of the above (and for each year) how many complaints resulted in some form of disciplinary action?
  5. How many calls did Parliament’s Harassment Hotline (for staff) receive in 2014? 2015? 2016? 2017?
  6. If possible, for each year how many of these calls related to allegations of sexual harassment? (If it is not possible to answer this question within the cost / time limit then please just answer the first question).

 

Response

In the first instance, it may help you to know that there are three main routes to complain about this sort of behaviour in the House of Commons. These routes are:

• The Respect Policy – This is for staff of the House of Commons complaining about the behaviour of Members or their staff
• The Valuing Others Policy – For staff to complain about the inappropriate behaviour of other House staff
• The police – for any individual to make a complaint about criminal behaviour by another person

It is also worth noting that the Members’ HR Advice Service (MHRAS) provides confidential advice to Members of Parliament in their role as employers, however, MPs are not required to consult the service.

  1. How many complaints of sexual harassment or assault by MPs or parliamentary staff have you received in 2015, 2016, and 2017?
    And
  2. Of the above (and for each year) how many complaints resulted in some form of disciplinary action?
    And
  3. How many complaints of bullying by MPs or parliamentary staff have you received in 2015, 2016 and 2017?
    And
  4. Of the above (and for each year) how many complaints resulted in some form of disciplinary action?
    Under the Respect Policy:
    This information is not held by the House of Commons.
    We hold records of the total number of complaints made under this policy, but this is not split into categories based on the nature of the complaint. To separate the sexual harassment, assault or bullying cases, a sophisticated judgement would have to be made about the information held, and we are not obliged to carry out this breakdown or create this information as a result of a FOI request.
    The House does not take disciplinary action against Members’ staff or Members, as this is a matter for the Member who employs the staff or their political party respectively.
    Under the Valuing Others Policy:
    This information is not held by the House of Commons.
    We hold records of the total number of complaints made under this policy, but the complaints nor the action taken are not split into categories based on the nature of the complaint. To separate the sexual harassment, assault or bullying cases, a sophisticated judgement would have to be made about the information held, and we are not obliged to carry out this breakdown or create this information as a result of a FOI request.
    Complaints made to the Police:
    Some information is held by the House of Commons. On behalf of the House, the Metropolitan Police Service publish quarterly details of notifiable offences such as assault on their website.
    No other information is held by the House of Commons.
    Complaints made to MHRAS:
    The House holds records of some grievances about which MPs have sought advice from the Members’ HR Advice Service.
    For cases relating to sexual harassment or assault by MPs or their staff (including details of any disciplinary action recorded) in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number is very small (fewer than 5 cases).
    For cases relating to bullying and harassment (including details of any disciplinary action recorded) in 2015 and 2016 is also fewer than 5. In 2017, the MHRAS was consulted on 8 bullying and harassment cases. However, of these cases, our records show that fewer than 5 cases resulted in disciplinary action.
    The disclosure of the number of cases or subsequent actions with fewer than 5 occurrences would allow the personal data of the individuals concerned to be revealed. 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 the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
  5. How many calls did Parliament’s Harassment Hotline (for staff) receive in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017?
    And
  6. If possible, for each year how many of these calls related to allegations of sexual harassment? (If it is not possible to answer this question within the cost / time limit then please just answer the first question).
    We have interpreted your request for information about ‘Parliament’s Harassment Hotline’ to be for information about the Employee Assistance Programme. This provides, amongst other benefits, a free confidential helpline. This helpline is available 24/7 for all Members’ staff. The service, provided on behalf of the House by Health Assured, allows staff to discuss and seek advice on personal and professional issues, including:
    • Health and well-being information
    • Financial issues
    • General advice on employment law
    • Stress at home or work and relationship matters
    Additionally, face-to-face counselling sessions can be offered where appropriate.
    Information on the number of calls received by the confidential helpline is held by the House of Commons. The number of calls received since 2014 were as follows:
    2014 (from contract start in May): 87
    2015: 108
    2016: 240
    2017 (January – October): 238
    No records are held about how many of these calls related to allegations of sexual harassment.