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Wednesday 27 February 2019

House Commission must “stop dragging their feet” on sexual harassment policy


The Fawcett Society’s report on sexual harassment in Parliament “highlights the urgent need for Dame Laura Cox’s recommendations to be implemented in full”, according to FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge.

New research released by the Fawcett Society found that 73% of both men and women believe there needs to be a change in how unwanted sexual behaviour is dealt with in politics. There was strong public support for sanctions against MPs, with 70% backing the removal of MPs from office and banning them for a period of time, while 70% believed that an MP’s constituents should be able to trigger a by-election. 

A huge 80% also backed independent investigations into allegations of sexual harassment, which was one of the key recommendations in Dame Laura’s inquiry into bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff back in October 2018. 

The FDA has long campaigned for a truly independent bullying and harassment policy in the House of Commons and fully supports Dame Laura’s recommendations, which also call for past cases to be properly investigated. 

Nine days after her findings were initially published, the House of Commons Commission voted unanimously to accept Dame Laura’s recommendations in full. However, as Leversidge explains, “we are yet to see the firm action the FDA has long called for”. 

“In her report, Dame Laura condemned a culture of ‘acquiescence, deference and silence’ in the House,” she added. “It’s clear that culture is still alive and well as, despite voting unanimously to implement Dame Laura’s recommendations in full, the House Commission has since done nothing to make this a reality.” 

Responding to the Fawcett Society’s new research, Leversidge demanded that the House Commission “stop dragging their feet and work with the FDA and House staff to finally implement a policy that is independent from MPs and allows past cases to be investigated”.

“Only then,” she stressed, “can Parliament truly say it takes a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and sexual harassment of all kinds.”

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