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Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

House of Commons Commission – in the House of Commons on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston

To ask the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington, representing the House of Commons Commission, what progress the Commission has made on implementing the independent complaints and grievance scheme.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

Good progress is being made on implementing the independent complaints and grievance scheme, and on the recommendations by Dame Laura Cox and Gemma White, QC, to improve the working culture of the House. Complainants with non-recent cases, and former members of the parliamentary community who were not previously covered by the scheme, were able to access it from Monday 21 October this year. A staff group is examining options for implementing the Cox recommendation on independent determination of complaints against Members.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston

I do not believe that the Commission is making good progress. It has been a year since the Dame Laura Cox report came out, and historical cases were finally reopened only last week. Recommendation 3 makes it clear that there must be an entirely independent process for investigating complaints of bullying and harassment in which Members of Parliament do not take part. It has been a year; it has gone on too long. Does the right hon. Gentleman understand how important it is for staff to have confidence in the system and know that Members of Parliament are not involved in judging their peers?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

I agree that there should be a completely independent process, and I regret that 12 months on that has not been resolved. A group is making good progress on that, and it expects to report back to the Commission later this year. I hope that by the end of this year that issue will be resolved.

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Devolution)

May I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the support you have given me as a relatively new Member, and for the visit that you made to Manchester after the Manchester Arena attack, which killed two of my constituents? That meant a great deal to the families, and to me as a local parliamentarian. and I thank you for that.

A great deal of work has been done by the Commission, but what work is being undertaken to give Members of Parliament the adequate legal support they need to carry out their duties? Many of us have been the voice of people who have been mistreated, and we have called out corruption, mismanagement and fraud. When we seek help when we are the target of harassment, however, we are left wondering where that support is. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into that very real issue, so that MPs are not bullied, harassed and intimidated into eventually moving away from the responsibilities they have in representing their constituents?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Duchy of Lancaster)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. If he is referring to particular cases, he can pass the details on to me. I am aware that support has been made available to Members of Parliament against whom legal cases have been pursued. I will follow that up if he is able to pass me the details.