Parties must not flunk first test on Westminster bullying claims, says FDA union

Friday 16th March, 2018
[For immediate release]

The FDA union is today calling on all the major political parties to show that they are serious about cracking down on the bullying and abuse of Parliamentary staff by backing a fully independent inquiry into the claims.

Ahead of a crunch meeting on Monday to decide whether such a probe will go ahead, the FDA - whose members include staff in the House of Commons - has written to party leaders including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, urging them to support the independent inquiry called for this week by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.

General Secretary Dave Penman says: "I am writing to express our unequivocal support for the launching of an independent inquiry and urging you, as leader of your party, to publicly back this initiative and seize the opportunity for these serious issues to be investigated."

The FDA believes an independent inquiry must consider radical reform of the complaints procedure, including the end of the flawed Respect Policy, to ensure it can truly command the confidence of parliamentary staff.

In the letters, which have also been sent to all members of the House of Commons Commission, Mr Penman writes:

“We have consistently maintained that for staff to have trust and confidence in a process for dealing with bullying and harassment by MPs that process must be independent from MPs at all stages, including determining sanctions […] If these principles are adopted we believe that this can lead to a change in the culture of the House with all staff being treated with dignity and respect.”

Launching the letters, the FDA General Secretary said: “Monday’s meeting of the House of Commons Commission will be the first real test of whether the political parties are serious about tackling the kind of behaviour that would be simply unacceptable in any other modern workplace.

“We want all sides to commit to an independent inquiry that will help restore the confidence of staff, who deserve to know that their complaints will be taken seriously.

“No more promising careers should be cut short because talented, hard-working public servants feel unable to call out inappropriate behaviour. The parties need to put aside the politics and commit to taking real action.”

Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, representing more than 18,000 members at grades HEO and above. Membership includes senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across the Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

3. The FDA has today written to Prime Minister Theresa May; Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn; Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable; SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford; Green Party Co-Leader Caroline Lucas; DUP Westminster Leader Nigel Dodds; and all members of the House of Commons Commission. The union has also written to Commons Leader Andrew Leadsom, expressing support for her call for an independent inquiry.

4. The letter to Prime Minister Theresa May can be read here.

5. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk. General Secretary Dave Penman tweets as @FDAGenSec.

5. For further information contact the FDA Communications team on 020 7401 5589.