FDA welcomes “seismic change” for victims of harassment in Parliament
Responding to today’s House of Commons Commission update on an independent complaints process, FDA Assistant General Secretary Amy Leversidge said:
“The FDA welcomes today’s decision of the House of Commons Commission to finally introduce a fully independent process to deal with bullying and harassment complaints against MPs.
“This is a seismic change for staff working in Parliament and we are pleased that the Commission has adopted our preferred model of a Parliamentary Tribunal, consisting of external experts, to determine outcomes on complaints.
“We have worked tirelessly for Parliament to end MP's self-regulation over bullying, harassment and sexual harassment cases. Time and again the Commission had the opportunity to introduce a fully independent process – a key demand of staff – but instead opted for self-regulation. The FDA alone stood firm in our demand for complete independence, which was only accepted following Dame Laura Cox QC’s damning report.
“However, this is ultimately a victory for the staff who have bravely spoken out about their experiences of bullying and harassment, and the devastating impact that the unchecked power of MPs has had on their lives and careers.
“Unfortunately, these proposals do still raise some cause for concern. If the Tribunal is to be considered fully independent, then there can be absolutely no involvement of current or former MPs, as this will once again raise suspicions over partisan political influence.
“Allowing MPs the right to debate the sanctions of a complaint on the floor of the House will no doubt leave staff fearing a repetition of the Lord Lester case – in which the House of Lords voted to overturn a sanction following a complaint that had been upheld against him.
“The Commission must consider these issues carefully following the consultation and resist the temptation to dilute what is a very welcome and long overdue proposal to protect staff.”