Sexual harassment in Westminster is rife - it's time for #MPToo

"The Working Group recognises that a greater understanding of these issues will be an important contributor to change, so there is a need for mandatory and voluntary training for MPs, peers and staff".

However, agreement was finally reached at 3pm on Wednesday, with Mrs Leadsom set to present the measures in the Commons on Thursday before they are voted on by MPs after their half-term break. And a new Independent Sexual Violence Adviser will be appointed to support anyone making a complaint involving inappropriate sexual behaviour.

If a complaint against an MP or peer is found to be credible, it would be referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The survey found that a quarter of those who had experienced inappropriate behaviour in the past 12 months spoke to their MP or line manager.

It is "unacceptable" that such "inappropriate behaviours" have taken place across the "parliamentary community", the report added.

The report warned that care must be taken to ensure that MPs do not have their reputations wrongly destroyed by false complaints.

"This is a major step in bringing about the culture change that Parliament needs".

A parliament-wide survey of 1,377 workers found 39% of staff, MPs and peers had experienced bullying and harassment of some sort while on the estate, according to the report.

Pestering MPs could face being kicked out of the Commons under a new strategy to combat sexual harassment in Westminster.

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'The new independent procedure will demonstrate that we want to be the best parliament in the world when it comes to treating everyone who works here with dignity and respect.

Complainants will have a right to anonymity, and the report said that: "Mechanisms will be put in place to protect confidentiality of all those involved in the process throughout".

These will include a new behavioural code for all MPs, peers and staff, which will underpin a new independent complaints and grievance procedure separate from the political parties.

Alternatively, workplace disciplinary procedures could be instigated, led by a trained investigator - and if they find fault on the "balance of probabilities", action will be taken against the guilty party.

There was widespread criticism at the time of the existing procedures for reporting bullying and harassment.

"However, we can not stand still and believe that everything in the garden will be rosy".

"I'm pleased that numerous policies I proposed have been adopted - and glad that the group largely overcame party politics to put forward a set of proposals that have the potential to bring about real change", she added.

The plans, to be published through a written ministerial statement on Thursday, will be considered by both the House of Commons and House of Lords with a debate taking place in the last week of February or first week of March.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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