Lords in firing line on “toxic behaviours”
An independent review led by Naomi Ellenbogen QC into the House of Lords has revealed ‘a culture of deference’ and a “prevailing culture” that has not been open and supportive to all those working there. The report found that 20% of staff had reported experience of bullying or harassment – higher than the 11% across the civil service, and just higher than the House of Commons.
The inquiry took 180 contributions from staff who had worked for the Lords within the past six years. It found that one in five peers have behaved inappropriately or in a ‘rude’ or high-handed manner; and that female staff have been subjected to inappropriate comments and behaviour from male senior colleagues.
The report makes 19 recommendations focused on changing “the various toxic behaviours” and improving “the options available to address inappropriate behaviour”. They include compulsory training for both members of the House of Lords and their staff, the creation of a unified cross-parliamentary human resources team; the installation of CCTV in harassment hotspots around the upper chamber; and the appointment of a director general of the House of Lords to oversee any allegations that might arise.