Committee on Standards: Cox Report

Part of NHS Long-Term Plan – in the House of Commons at 9:24 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 9:24 pm, 7th January 2019

The House of Commons Commission is looking at each of these issues. If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I will answer his question in a moment.

Dame Laura Cox also raised serious concerns about the senior management of this place and, as an ex officio member of the Commission, I am keen that these issues be explored further. Her concerns cannot be brushed aside. It will be very important that the Commission does not ease up on the pace of dealing with what are most urgent issues facing the governance of Parliament. The changes to be made in the light of the Cox report are a matter for the Commission and the House itself.

That brings us to the motion on the Order Paper. I pay tribute to the Committee on Standards for its work, which was done not only quickly, in recognition of the gravity of the situation, but thoughtfully. I also pay tribute to the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston for the constructive way in which she has engaged with the process since the beginning of her chairmanship. It is not an easy task when Committees themselves must assess their fitness for purpose and adapt to calls for change. The Committee on Standards has adopted a clear openness and willingness to do so, while also recognising the need for a further and separate review of the standards system.

The motion relates to the third and key recommendation of the Cox report, on the independence of the process for determining complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment brought by staff against Members of Parliament. The House of Commons Commission agreed in December to establish a small, informal working group to examine and report on that recommendation. The Government are fully committed to ensuring that MPs are accountable for their actions, but also agree with the Commission that it is necessary to consider carefully the potential constitutional implications of wholesale changes in the standards system. In the interim, while recognising that need for further review, the motion seeks to make some important changes in the current system to enhance its independence and ways of working.