Valerie responds to debate on report on bullying and harassment in Parliament

On Wednesday 17 July 2019, I responded to the opening of a debate on the Gemma White QC report on bullying and harassment in Parliament. The report outlines the testimony collected in an extremely accessible way, but it does not make for pleasant reading.

You can read my speech in full here. An excerpt is below:

I thank the Leader of the House for opening this debate, and I, too, want to start by thanking Gemma White QC for all the time she has put into talking to Members and Members’ staff. As she said in her report, she spoke to 220 out of 3,200 people—Members’ staff. I will look at her report in detail, but I first want to mention Carl Sargeant. ​Perhaps we should pause for a moment to think about the stresses that resulted in him taking his own life; I am sure there are lessons to be learned from the inquest, although it had a narrow remit and did not look at everything. We must be aware of the stresses and strains people are under and the effect of accusations on them.

Gemma White outlined the testimony in an extremely accessible way in what is an accessible report, but it does not make for pleasant reading. It must have been very debilitating to have had to go through those experiences, and I say sorry to those who had a terrible experience. However, the White report also says that staff took time to relate their positive experiences, as the Leader of the House said, and at paragraph 26 it says that Members wished to share their experiences as employers and also expressed concern about current levels of support for them and their staff. But the ICGS is in place and any system requires refinement. Paragraph 118 cites the Alison Stanley report’s finding that the experience of first users of the ICGS has been mixed, with much of the input being negative. Gemma White said that she shared that view.