MPs’ staff face an “unacceptable risk” of bullying and harassment – including sexual harassment – a new independent report into the treatment of staff at Westminster has said.
Gemma White QC said there was a “significant problem” about the way some MPs treated those who worked for them.
She said the House of Commons authorities had been too slow to act in response to previous reports into the issue.
“Some staff of Members of Parliament are subject to an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, at work,” she said.
“Most Members of Parliament treat their staff with dignity and respect but the problem of bullying and harassment is sufficiently widespread to require an urgent collective response,” she added.
“Recent steps taken by the House of Commons to address bullying and harassment across the Parliamentary community do not engage sufficiently with the particular issues faced by members’ staff, who are in a uniquely vulnerable position because they are directly employed by Members of Parliament.
“Many describe the idea of complaining about bullying and harassment under the new complaints procedure as ‘career suicide’.
“They also often have strong party and personal loyalties which constitute significant barriers to complaint.”
One staff member told the investigation: “As long as getting political jobs in Parliament are dependent on who you know and who you’re related to, sexual harassment will be a necessary evil for ambitious young… people like me who will choose our careers over our comfort every time.”
Another said: “Working in the Houses of Parliament is meant to be an honour, but the actions of some MPs and staff members destroys any sense of pride.
“We are expendable staffers, with no independent HR service, and therefore no recourse.”
The report into practices in the House of Commons follows a similar report into bullying in the House of Lords, published on Wednesday.