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Wednesday 17 July 2019

FDA: HoC was right to extend the bullying and harassment enquiry. But there is more to be done

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The FDA welcomes the House of Commons' (HoC) decision to open historical allegations of bullying and harassment made against MPs to investigation.

The vote to do so followed the publication of Gemma White QC's inquiry into the bullying and harassment of MPs' staff, which contained her recommendation to remove the June 2017 cut-off date in respect of historical complaints.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman described scrapping the "artificial deadline imposed" on such cases as "a critical step in allowing everyone in Parliament to confront" past abuse "and, crucially, to move on from it."

Penman argued, however, there was more work to be done: namely, the adoption of a HoC complaints policy free of MPs' influence.

For years, the trade union has been lobbying the HoC to reform its complaints policy. In 2018, Dame Laura Cox QC's report into bullying and harassment of HoC staff echoed the FDA's own calls for change and made two key recommendations. Firstly, to remove the arbitrary cut-off date which prevented the investigation of historical cases. Secondly, to put in place a fully independent process to deal with complaints made against MPs.

The FDA championed the Cox report, and demanded the adoption of the author's recommendations. On 24 October, the HoC Commission voted to implement them. However, to date, an independent process has yet to be put in place.

"A process that is free from the involvement of MPs has – ten months after the House Commission agreed to implement it – still not been put in place," Penman underscored. "The necessity for a fully independent procedure was reaffirmed only last week in the Gemma White report, where the author made clear that those who work directly for MPs would not bring complaints forward if MPs had any involvement in the process.

“The House Commission and Parliament now need to stop dragging their feet and implement this final reform. It’s 2019: time to recognise that House of Commons staff deserve a workplace free of fear and intimidation, with working practices fit for the 21st century.”

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