POLITICS
23/10/2018 12:19 BST | Updated 23/10/2018 12:55 BST

Parliament Has 'Subculture' Of Bullying And Harassment, Admits Senior Official

Sir David Natzler claims he is trying to make it a better place to work.

HuffPost UK

There has always been a “subculture of bullying and harassment” in parliament, the most senior legal and constitutional adviser in the House of Commons has said.

David Natzler, the clerk of the House of Commons, told MPs on Tuesday that “unresolved and serious issues” from the past continue to “poison the well”.

Dozens of serving and former clerks and other officials – along with several MPs – yesterday called in a letter for the recommendations of an inquiry into Westminster’s bullying culture to be adopted in full.

The officials said that, as well as MPs being stripped of a role in determining allegations about colleagues, the complaints procedures should also be amended so historic claims can be investigated.

The letter comes after High Court judge Dame Laura Cox lifted the lid on a toxic environment in Westminster in an atmosphere fuelled by ready access to alcohol.

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MPs have called for John Bercow to resign as Commons Speaker following claims – which he denies – that he bullied two former officials.

One former Commons staffer told HuffPost UK the Speaker called her a “little girl” because he was unable to find an envelope he was looking for. 

A spokesperson for Bercow said the Speaker had “absolutely no recollection” of the alleged incident.

Speaking to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee today, Natzler admitted there were problems that had to be “urgently addressed”.

The Cox reports and its conclusions was shocking if not altogether surprising,” he said.

“I think we are all taking time to absorb what is a complicated and very long report and to work out from that what is the way forward.

“I have done my best to make the House service a better and happier place for those who work here.”

Natzler added: “I and others have always been aware there is a subculture of bullying and harassment of House staff.

“And that is not only by members [MPs] - which is of course not tolerable - but also by other House staff and that was made plain in the Cox report.”

The House of Commons Commission meets on Wednesday to discuss the Cox Report, with independent member Jane McCall chairing the panel rather than Bercow