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9 December 2022

Twenty-nine Conservative MPs have not attended “essential” bullying and harassment training

Eight per cent of all MPs haven't attended misconduct training in parliament.

By Zoë Grünewald

Of the 39 MPs who have not attended training to help identify and prevent bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in parliament, 29 are Conservative, the New Statesman can reveal.

The other ten MPs include one member of each Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP. The remainder are abstentionist Sinn Féin, who do not attend parliament.

The training was created in the wake of the multiple bullying and harassment scandals in parliament back in 2018, and was originally called “Valuing Everyone” training. It has since been rebranded as “The Behaviour Code: why it matters”.

In 2021, Alison Stanley, an independent figure who led a review into the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) recommended that the House of Commons make the training compulsory for MPs, as it is for administrative staff. She cited its high levels of success among staff as well as the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s comments that the training was “key for engendering culture change across both Houses”.

Stanley said mandating MPs to attend the training “will resend a clear and powerful message to the whole parliamentary community and externally that they remain committed to an improved culture”. However, this recommendation was not accepted.

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The list of 39 MPs who have not attended the training includes senior Conservatives such as James Cleverly, Liam Fox, Johnny Mercer, Nadine Dorries and Tobias Ellwood.

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A further 11 MPs have been “waitlisted”, meaning they will be informed of upcoming sessions when they are made available. Members are generally added to the waiting list when they have attempted to book on to the training but the sessions available are not suitable to their schedule.

A spokesperson from the House of Commons said: “Both Houses have made it clear that Valuing Everyone training (recently refreshed and now known as the Behaviour Code: why it matters) is essential for all those working in parliament. It has been attended by over 6,000 passholders, including over 600 MPs. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far – over 92 per cent of participants indicated that the course was good or very good for increasing their ability to recognise unacceptable behaviour. While the House regards the training as essential, MPs are not compelled to take it, and we couldn’t comment on why individual MPs might not have done so.”

The named MPs have been approached for comment.

[See also: The Tory exodus is a sign of a failing party – and system]