Following the publication last week of the report by Gemma White QC, I spoke in the Chamber yesterday in the debate on the historical allegations of bullying and harassment of MPs’ staff.
Her report into the historical allegations of bullying and harassment of MPs’ staff adds greatly to the work done by the independent complaints and grievance scheme working group which I chaired as Leader of the House, and will drive much-needed further reforms in the way we treat and value all those who work for and support us in our roles as MPs.
Her report highlights the need for everyone working in or visiting Parliament to be treated with dignity and respect, but she also highlighted some truly unacceptable employment practices. I was appalled, as I am sure were colleagues from both sides of the House, to read some of the comments from staff. As part of my work in chairing the ICGS working group, I heard some pretty harrowing testimony from several individuals, and I paid tribute to them yesterday for their bravery in coming forward to speak with the group.
As part of the scope of the working group, it was recommended that a wide range of training should be available to MPs and their staff. The White report recommends making some of that training mandatory in order to bring about institutional behavioural change, and I totally agree. All MPs and all staff working for MPs should now be required to undertake at least the Valuing Everyone training that was implemented as part of the ICGS. In yesterday’s debate I called on each of the Whips Offices to ensure that their MPs have completed their training within six months of the report’s publication.
It is clear that we in Parliament must bring about long-lasting and positive institutional change without delay, and that change must come from the very top. Only then can we truly restore confidence in how Parliament works.
You can watch my speech below, and you can read a full transcript of the debate here.