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 Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Labour 2:51 pm, 8th February 2018

My Lords, as I am sure most noble Lords do, I welcome the report; it takes a difficult matter very seriously. However, there are a couple of points on which I would be grateful if the noble Baroness could provide us with some further information.

The Statement says that the working group recognised that those who work in this place are often in the media spotlight and that vexatious and malicious complaints are a risk. It goes on to say that procedures will ensure that checks and balances are in place to safeguard against such complaints. Can the noble Baroness say a little bit more about such checks and balances? It has perhaps been felt that once an individual is targeted, all sorts of other people will then say, “Yes, this dreadful thing also happened to me”. I am sure that is often entirely true, but on the point made in the Statement about vexatious complaints it would helpful if the noble Baroness could say a little more.

My second point is about what we call “inappropriate behaviour”. As my noble friend Lady Smith said, it can mean different things to different people. It might be an inappropriate remark to somebody which is embarrassing or just plain silly. That is very different from bringing pressure to bear on an individual to respond to a sexual advance. Will the noble Baroness say a little more about the definition of what is really inappropriate?