Working Group on Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:51 pm on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Bew Lord Bew Crossbench 2:51 pm, 8th February 2018

My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I immediately declare an interest as chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Following our meeting this morning, our committee has already issued a warm statement of support for this document. There is a laconic reference in the Statement to “challenging discussions”. I indeed attended one such discussion chaired by the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom. I offer my personal congratulations to her. On 21 December, she made a Statement and then everything seemed to get stuck for quite a time. It is now unstuck; we now have real progress. I add to that my congratulations to all the other parties in the House of Commons, who after a vigorous debate have contributed to this agreement. The Speaker in the other place was quite right that there was no possibility of any real progress on this matter unless there was cross-party agreement. Yesterday afternoon, that finally materialised.

The great thing about this document is that it echoes the best practice of the best employers outside the House, which is what is so important about it. It is also important in that it strengthens the role of the parliamentary commissioner. I suspect it needs to be strengthened in other ways as well, but it could be seen as an important moment in that process.

Perhaps I may set out one final proviso, for which the committee has expressed support—points in that regard have already been made by the noble Lord, Lord Newby. I hope the noble Baroness accepts that much will continue to depend on the leadership culture in the House. These proposals are excellent, but they will depend on a continued transformation of the leadership culture in both Houses.