Commission Update 10 February
2 October 2020
Independent Complaints Process
The House of Commons Commission has backed the creation of an independent expert panel for determining bullying or sexual harassment complaints against MPs.
The proposal, which is now open to public consultation, would involve a new independent panel of experts with the power to determine cases and decide on sanctions. Unlike the Committee on Standards, which it would replace, the panel would be completely independent of MPs.
If introduced, the measure will implement the third and final recommendation of Dame Laura Cox QC on the determination of complaints against MPs under the Independent complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) without MP involvement.
Dame Laura Cox said:
“I am very happy to see that the Commission has agreed with the preferred option of an independent expert panel, subject to consultation and to a sensible agreement as to a broad range of sanctions. I am extremely pleased to see that this option has commanded the most widespread support. It also meets the requirements of independence and expertise, which are so crucial to the success of any scheme.”
The consultation on the proposal will run until midnight on Sunday 8 March. The results of the consultation will be brought to the following meeting of the Commission in March. Further details of the proposal can be found in the consultation document.
The Commission is particularly interested in responses to the questions below:
- Do you agree with the Commission's preferred option of establishing an independent panel of experts to replace the Committee on Standards in determining complaints against MPs under the IGCS?
- In the very rare circumstances where the House is asked to implement a sanction of suspension or expulsion of a member following a panel determination, what process should be followed on the Floor? Should the question be decided without debate? Should the question be decided with debate but with a Commission member present to speak to the report?
- Should the independent expert panel include a former Member?
The public consultation will be open until midnight on Sunday 8 March. You can send your response via email to HOCCommission@parliament.uk or by post to Governance Office, Committee Corridor, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA.
As responses to the public consultation will be shared with Commission members, as well as the staff team on independence, and the Commission secretariat, you should not send us any information you wish to remain private.
Gemma White Recommendations
The Commission has also decided to establish a Members' Services Team to implement the Gemma White QC recommendation of a HR service for MPs and their staff. Work has already begun to put these new services in place and we will continue to update Members and Members' staff as it develops. The remit of this team will be:
- To tackle the sense of isolation felt by MP staff as reported to Gemma White.
- To co-ordinate and maximise the impact of existing service provision for MPs and their staff.
- To ensure an efficient and effective mechanism for understanding MP and MP staff views on the services provided by the House, identifying gaps and developing proposals for improvement.
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