Valuing Everyone training ;ICGS investigations: former MPs Contents

Chapter 2: Investigations of Members relating to their time as an MP

13.The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) provides that former members of either House can be investigated for alleged bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct during their time as a member. The only exceptions are former MPs who are now in the House of Lords and former Lords who become MPs, who cannot currently be investigated if a complaint concerns their conduct while in the first House.

14.This report invites the House to close this loophole by approving a scheme which has been agreed between the Conduct Committee and the House of Commons Standards Committee. We understand that the Standards Committee will shortly be seeking the agreement of the House of Commons in similar terms.

Proposed scheme

15.The Committees have agreed that complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct against ex-MPs in the Lords relating to their time in the Commons should be investigated under Commons procedures, so that all former MPs can be investigated in the same way. Similarly, any appeals against the findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS) would be made to the Independent Expert Panel established by the House of Commons.

16.Where the PCS finds that there has been a breach, but has not been able to deal with it through House of Commons rectification procedures, it will be necessary to impose a sanction. The two Houses have distinct approaches to sanctions, particularly at the more serious end of the scale where there are separate legal provisions about what sanctions are available, and there may also be different thresholds for serious sanctions. Accordingly, we propose that any sanction on a member of this House relating to their historic behaviour as an MP should be proposed by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, as she does for any other Lords member in breach of the Code. Any appeal against the sanction would be heard by this House’s Conduct Committee in the usual way.

17.Although it is rare for a member to move from the Lords to the Commons, it is proposed that this scheme would apply in reverse as necessary. Therefore, the Lords Commissioner would investigate complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct against MPs relating to their time in the Lords, and the Independent Expert Panel in the Commons would propose the appropriate sanction.

18.The full proposed scheme is set out below, and we recommend that the following text should be added as a new section of the Guide to the Code after paragraph 158.

Bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct investigations into former members of the other House

158A. Where complaints of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct are made against a member of one House relating to their time in the other House, the following procedures apply. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS) and the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards may share information on a confidential basis in such cases, to ensure that they are both aware of any pattern of behaviour.

Former MPs in the House of Lords

158B. Complaints against a member of the House relating to their time in the House of Commons are dealt with under House of Commons procedures for setting up an ICGS investigation and reporting that investigation to the House of Commons Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS). In line with House of Commons rules, only complaints by current or former members of the parliamentary community are accepted. Complaints must be made to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme helpline.4

158C. During an investigation under House of Commons procedures, the House of Lords Commissioner may restrict access to facilities and services of the House for the member in question as she can with her own investigations.

158D. If a member of the House retires during an investigation under these provisions, then the case may be concluded in the House of Commons as with former MPs who are not members of the House of Lords.

158E. Where the PCS concludes that there has been no breach of the rules, or that there has been a breach that can be rectified, she writes to the Conduct Committee to inform them before publishing her report.

158F. The House of Commons Independent Expert Panel (IEP) hears any appeal from either party against the PCS’s conclusions.

158G. Members of the House are to cooperate with the PCS and the IEP in any investigation. A failure to cooperate is a breach of this Code.

158H. If the conclusion of the process in the House of Commons is that bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct has occurred and that it cannot be dealt with through rectification, the PCS or the IEP (as appropriate) send their report in confidence to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards. The Commissioner then recommends a sanction to the Conduct Committee. She does not re-open any aspect of the investigation.

158I. The Conduct Committee receives the recommendation on sanction as set out in paragraphs 161 to 164 below, and hears any appeal, limited only to the severity of the sanction.

158J. If the sanction is a personal statement of apology to the House, the member makes the statement in the House of Lords.

Former Lords members in the House of Commons

158K. Complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct against an MP relating to their time in this House are dealt with under House of Lords procedures. Such complaints, which may be submitted by anybody who has been directly affected by the alleged behaviour, should be addressed to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards or the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme helpline.

158L. Where the Commissioner concludes that there has been no breach of the rules, or that there has been a breach that can be dealt with through remedial action, she writes to the relevant Commons authorities to inform them.

158M. The Conduct Committee hears any appeal by either party against the Commissioner’s conclusions.

158N. If the conclusion of the process in the House of Lords is that bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct has occurred and that it cannot be dealt with through remedial action, the Commissioner or Conduct Committee (depending on whether there has been an appeal) send their report in confidence to the PCS. The member is then sanctioned in line with House of Commons processes.

158O. If the sanction is a personal statement of apology to the House, the member makes the statement in the House of Commons.


4 The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme Helpline can be contacted on 0808 168 9281 (freephone) or at support@ICGShelpline.org.uk.




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