Backbench Business - Whistleblowingbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 6:34 pm, 3rd July 2019

I thank Norman Lamb and my hon. Friend Stephen Kerr for securing today’s important debate. I should also like to congratulate the right hon. Sir Norman Lamb on his knighthood, in recognition of his commitment to public service. I thank all hon. Members for their contributions today, and for the passion that they have expressed in voicing the concerns and putting their arguments on UK whistleblowing policy.

The Government recognise how valuable it is that whistleblowers are prepared to shine a light on wrongdoing. That is important at an organisational level but also, more broadly, for society, so that issues such as abuse of power are brought to light. This afternoon, stories have been shared in the House of people who, having acted as whistleblowers, have been disadvantaged and experienced severe detriment.

Effective whistleblowing policies enable workers to speak up, to prevent wrongdoing and fraud. That helps to protect employers from financial loss and reputational damage, and builds their trust with customers. Those who blow the whistle should be able to do so without fear of recriminations. Employment protection enables workers who have blown the whistle to seek redress if they are dismissed or suffer detriment at the hands of the employer because they have made what is called a “protected disclosure” about wrongdoing that they have witnessed at work.

I can assure hon. Members that over recent years the Government have taken steps to support a cultural change in relation to whistleblowing in all sectors. A number of statutory and non-statutory improvements have been made. Those include the publication of guidance for whistleblowers on what they need to do to make disclosures while preserving their employment protections; and guidance for employers, including a non-statutory code of practice.

My hon. Friend Anneliese Dodds mentioned guidance. The hon. Lady spoke about the extent to which MPs have clarity in dealing with people who come to them for advice. I would like to go away and see whether there is any kind of guidance that we might publish, particularly for MPs, to improve our ability to help our constituents.