MPs and senior civil servants get away with inappropriate behaviour: report

The entrance to the parliamentary complex. Photo:
The entrance to the parliamentary complex. Photo:

MPs and senior civil servants are getting away with inappropriate behaviour, a survey by Utrecht University into social safety at the parliamentary complex has shown.

Some 28 MPs, 173 staff and 428 civil servants participated in the survey, a third of whom reported instances of intimidation, discrimination, gossip and other types of inappropriate behaviour.

That is a ‘significant minority’ the researchers said in their report and indicates ‘deep seated patterns and mechanism which pose a clear and persistent risk’.

The investigation into workplace safety, commissioned by parliamentary chairwoman Vera Bergkamp following a number of complaints, cites examples of derogatory remarks, screaming and shouting, bullying and sexual intimidation. Some participants said they had been forced to do things that were against the rules.

Senior civil servants and MPs were the most likely perpetrators, the survey showed. Both groups were blamed in equal measure (25% each), although high level civil servants only make up 4% of the workforce compared to 9% for MPs.

The report also said staff are ‘reticent about reporting inappropriate behaviour for fear of negative consequences or a lack of confidence in the complaints procedures open to them’.

Recommendations include a more adequate policy to tackle the problem which should be ‘clearly seen to be supported and carried out by MPs and senior civil servants’.

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