Bullying and Harassment of MPS’ Parliamentary Staff

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 5:19 pm, 17th July 2019

The hon. Gentleman has very perceptively poked his finger into one of a few areas where it is not entirely clear how the system will work. Indeed, he is right. If a Member has left this place, I guess that an investigation could be conducted, but then there would be the issue of what sanctions could be applied and by whom. Indeed, a Member may have left this place and gone to the other place and, in those circumstances, he might ask what the process would be and who would apply the sanctions—if sanctions are to be applied. The best answer that I can give him is that there are elements of this that will require further work. If he would like to contribute to that, my door is always open.

That brings me rather neatly on to the important point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke. She rightly asked the question about this whole issue of transparency, ownership, accountability and leadership, and where these decisions ultimately rest. I am standing at this Dispatch Box as a Minister leading this debate, but, of course, these are matters not for the Government, but for the House. They are matters for all 650—600-plus—MPs who have actually taken their seats in this place. In some senses, there are some quite deep and reform-related issues around governance here that various Members have raised, which really fall to the House to grapple with. My role in that is that I sit on the House of Commons Commission, as does the shadow Leader of the House, but I do not lead the House in terms of reforming its own procedures and practices, albeit that I can facilitate some of those changes, as I have done, by bringing forward this debate today, and, indeed, the motion that we will very shortly and hopefully be passing in regard to historic cases.

Finally, let me turn to some other points that have been made. I thank Kate Green for her outstanding work on the Committee on Standards, and for the time and courtesy that she offered to me when we met recently to discuss a number of the aspects of the work of her Committee. I also thank her for the work that she is doing at the moment on the different sanctions that may apply to Members of Parliament and for her best endeavours to complete that work, as suggested in the report, by December of this year. Finally, I thank her for the work that she will be doing alongside the House of Commons Commission in respect of the Cox 3 recommendation around MPs effectively not being able to mark their own homework.

In conclusion, I thank again all those who have contributed to this very important debate. We in this House hold this place dear. We are the guardians of its present and of its future, and we have a duty to ensure that it represents the very finest traditions and principles of our country. The way in which we treat those who support us in that endeavour lies right at the heart of any claim that we may make that we meet that vital test. I thank Gemma White for her report. Progress has been made, but there is still more to do and we will press ahead now with vigour.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the Gemma White report on bullying and harassment of MPs’
Parliamentary staff.