I do not have an issue with clarity. In fact, I think it is really helpful to see the thinking behind why the changes are being made, so unless there is some confidentiality issue, I do not see any problem. We are here discussing this, and we are not getting any clarity on it—certainly not from the interventions, or from the responses. There is no clarity on this, and I wish there were. There could be. That actually helps to make a system much fairer and work better, so I agree with the hon. Gentleman.
Let me move on to the next part of the Stanley report. She found in her review that those with a BAME—visible minority—background were less likely to have used the ICGS helplines compared with their white colleagues. She was concerned that several surveys
“carried out across Parliament have indicated that these groups are more likely to report that they have experienced bullying and harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.”
Despite that finding, there are no specific recommendations in the report that try to remedy it. Certain things have been remedied, but not others. In the light of the current climate, with Black Lives Matter, they should be considered.
Interestingly, in the introduction to its 2019 report “Stand in my shoes”, which has been published again on the intranet for Stephen Lawrence Day, ParliREACH stated that its findings confirmed its view that
“there is insufficient focus on and actions to challenge racial bias (both conscious or unconscious), and that many BAME”—
“staff expend effort each day to defend their right to work in Parliament and to progress through the organisation.”
It found that only 54% felt
“confident…to raise issues of concern”,
and 56% felt “comfortable being themselves”.
We know from other regulatory bodies that regulate professions, such as the General Medical Council and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, that BAME—visible minority—figures are over-represented among those complained about. The Alison Stanley review recommended that
“demographic analysis of the Helpline usage statistics”
“carried out as soon as possible”.
I hope that the Leader of the House will ensure that that is undertaken, because it is unclear whether that recommendation has been implemented, or whether there are any other measures taken to address this issue.
I want to draw hon. and right hon. Members’ attention—they may not be able to see this in some of the reports—to the costs of the ICGS. Its budget for 2021-22 is £1.8 million. We have investigators. I recall from the start of setting up the ICGS that we wanted it to be as fair as possible. Some 28% of those investigators are police officers: these are not criminal matters, although if they are criminal they should go to the criminal justice system, and that is what they are there for.
I think there are many barristers on the Attorney General’s panel, even the C panel, who are not very expensive—they are quite cheap—who could do the investigations cheaply and weigh the evidence in a proper way in a fair system. In the end, we all want a system that works. We want to stop bad behaviour. It is in all our interests to have a fair system that is transparent so that we abide by the rules of natural justice and we get justice for all. In that sense, I support the motion.
As there will not be another opportunity to do so unless the Leader of the House schedules more business, I want to say a few thank yous at the end of the day. The Parliamentary Digital Service is getting us all back to Parliament. We have a message from PDS to turn off and turn on our computers. It is showing us what to do as more people return to the estate. I specifically want to thank Ian Doubleday in Norman Shaw South, who has been really helpful in enabling Members to come back, and in keeping us and Members’ staff safe.
I pay tribute to one of our senior doorkeepers, Ray Mortimer, who has been here since 2003. He has led the Speaker’s procession for eight years, and the procession to the Lords during state opening twice. He has been through six Serjeants at Arms and three Speakers, and is on his fifth Prime Minister. His good friend, mentor and boss—in capital letters—Phil Howse said:
“Ray has been a superb asset not only to the doorkeeper team but to the House, dedicating the past 18 years to delivering fantastic service. His colleagues will miss his knowledge and guidance to the team. He is going from one house of drama”—
“to another, the Marlowe theatre in Canterbury. We wish Ray and his wife Sam good luck and all the very best for the future, and thank him for his amazing public service and the loyal service to the House of Commons.”
I am sure the whole House agrees.
From me, on a personal level, and just as the Leader of the House said, Ray is always good fun. He is always ready with advice about what is going on in the Chamber. He is extremely supportive of Members, all our work and the smooth running of the Chamber. He is always smiling and in a good mood. We will remember him as our little Ray of sunshine. Thank you, Ray, from all of us.