Bullying and Harassment of MPS’ Parliamentary Staff

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Conservative, South Northamptonshire 3:38 pm, 17th July 2019

I am glad my hon. Friend raises that point because, of course, the truth is that the training has been properly up and running for only the past couple of months. An awful lot of work went into procuring the training provider, as we needed to find a provider that could deal with the sheer volume of people who need to undertake the training. The training course itself was written specifically to be relevant to our working practices in Parliament.

I and a number of other people who are closely involved with the independent complaints procedure establishment went on the training only six or seven weeks ago to test it and to make sure it is entirely relevant and will be useful and welcomed. That has been done, so it is a bit unfair to say, “Well, why hasn’t everybody done it?” There genuinely is a capacity issue, but if all Whips were now to encourage Members to go on the Valuing Everyone training within the next six months, and all staff to undertake it within a year, it should be doable and would certainly be valuable.

I also believe that, with so many people working on the parliamentary estate, the centrally organised induction course that already exists should be made mandatory for all new starters and should be completed within three months of joining. No other major organisation would allow a new member of staff to come into such a huge and complex institution, let alone a building that is semi-falling down, without being compulsorily trained on things like health and safety, cyber-security and fire safety, let alone the behaviour code and how to raise a complaint or a grievance.

It would be easy to implement compulsory induction training, and the Director General and the Clerk of the House of Commons are keen to oversee that. It could be easily done by simply giving any new joiner a parliamentary pass that lasts for three months and is then renewed subject to their having completed the induction course.

As Leader of the House, I was proud to host visits from the Canadian and Australian Parliaments and to meet the Scottish Presiding Officer and the Llywydd of the Welsh Assembly to answer their questions on how we are determined to achieve culture change here in Westminster.

We should be ambitious to be a role model for all Parliaments around the world, confident in our determination always to treat everyone who works here or visits here with the dignity and respect they deserve.