Sue Gray Report - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:12 pm on 25th May 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 9:12 pm, 25th May 2022

I will attempt to address some of the points raised by the noble Lords. It is absolutely right, of course, that the Prime Minister has made a full and unreserved apology for what happened in No. 10. As noble Lords will have heard in his Statement, he repeatedly said that he takes full responsibility for everything that took place. He has acknowledged people’s hurt and anger, which I think we have heard from the comments, totally fairly, from the two noble Lords, and which I think a lot of us feel having also seen the report. He has offered a full and unreserved apology, and he has accepted that more time should have been taken to establish the full facts at the very beginning.

The noble Lord, Lord Newby, asked about the meeting with Sue Gray that has been reported. The Prime Minister had a procedural update on timings and publication arrangements, prompted by No. 10 following a discussion at an official-level meeting, but the findings and content of the report were not discussed and the report has been published in full in exactly the form it was received.

The noble Lord, Lord Collins, rightly mentioned the references to the security staff and the cleaning staff, and the Prime Minister has strongly condemned that behaviour. He said during Questions in the other place that he was going to apologise personally to those affected—I think at that point he had not had the names; I am sure he will. I believe that some of those conversations have already happened. Everyone is unhappy at and horrified by what they read. He said quite strongly that he was going to take action himself, but that he also expected those who were involved in these situations to do so as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Collins, asked what has happened since. The Prime Minister has taken steps since the publication of the report to address some of the specific shortcomings identified, and a number of them were mentioned in the report. For instance, there is a new Permanent Secretary charged with applying the high standards of government, and there are now easier ways for staff to raise concerns. Things are being done, and that was one of the things that Sue Gray has acknowledged and welcomed. She has said that change needs to be embedded now, so that these things can really take hold.