Modernising the culture in Westminster and tackling bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff took a step forward in February.
The Parliamentary Commission has launched a consultation on introducing a new independent panel of experts with the power to determine cases and decide on sanctions.
Unlike the Committee on Standards, which it would replace, the panel would be completely independent of MPs.
The move follows months of hard work by Prospect and the FDA.
In 2018, Prospect contributed to a report by Dame Laura Cox into bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff.
The report found “a culture, cascading from the top down, of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence, in which bullying, harassment and sexual harassment have been able to thrive and have long been tolerated and concealed”.
One of the report’s recommendations was that an independent panel should be set up to consider complaints and appropriate sanctions against MPs.
Dame Laura Cox had concluded that it would be inappropriate for MPs to sit on any such body and Prospect agreed.
Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said the union has been pressing for speedy implementation of the report’s recommendations.
“Prospect will be responding to the consultation and views this as a significant step forward in modernising the culture in Westminster. These steps would not have been achieved had it not been for the hard work of both Prospect and the FDA,” he added.
Poor take-up of training
In November 2019, Prospect raised concerns that just 15% of MPs and 2% of representatives in the Lords had undertaken the recommended training on bullying and harassment.
“If MPs and Lords want to convince staff that they understand the standards of behaviour expected and are committed to changing the culture within the Palace of Westminster, they must take up the training on offer.
“Training should be mandatory. If members of either house do not comply, we think their expenses should be withheld,” Graham concluded.
Prospect will be responding to the consultation which is at – http://bit.ly/parliament-conduct
Original report – http://bit.ly/dame-laura-cox
HOC Commission response – http://bit.ly/cox-response
Training story – http://bit.ly/hoc-bullying-training