Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:34 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 5:34 pm, 17th July 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
endorses the report of the House of Commons Commission entitled Extending the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, laid on Monday 15 July and approves the steps set out in paragraph 8 of the report to make the changes necessary to extend the scheme, endorsed under the resolution of 19 July 2018.

We have just debated the findings of the Gemma White report. In the course of her inquiry, MPs’ parliamentary staff came forward to discuss their experiences of working in the House of Commons, just as members of staff employed by the House of Commons came forward to speak to Dame Laura Cox last year. As I think all Members here today have recognised, even one case of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment in this place is one too many. I am grateful to those who have come forward to share their experience with these inquiries. As has been noted today, significant progress has already been made on these issues, and it has been made with cross-party support. In making this progress, it has been critical that the parties were able to work together to establish an independent complaints and grievance scheme for Parliament, which marks its first anniversary this week. I particularly my predecessor and colleagues from across the House for their work in setting up the scheme.

Now is the right time to make an important change to the function of the ICGS, to enable all those who came forward with past experiences of bullying or harassment to access the scheme and to have full access to an investigation where it is appropriate. I am determined that all those who have worked or are still working in Parliament should have an independent route to turn to if they have been bullied, harassed or sexually harassed. The opportunity for those with historical cases to access the ICGS was one of the three key recommendations made by Dame Laura Cox in her report of October last year. Gemma White has also recommended that the limitation on historical cases be removed, including to allow former members of staff access to the ICGS.

If we are to create a culture in Westminster in which everyone is confident that they will be treated with dignity and respect, we must continue to reform and also be prepared to confront the problems of the past. Today’s motion is about doing just that—giving complainants whose cases date from before June 2017 full access to the ICGS, along with providing access to this scheme to those who have left their employment here. There is certainly more to be done, but today’s motion is a huge step forward. By acting to address and face up to the past, we work towards creating a Parliament where all can rightly expect to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.