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5.23The Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) provides a single channel for complaints about behaviour which may breach the policies relating to bullying and harassment and sexual misconduct, and sets up a panel of investigators into such complaints. The aim of the scheme is to resolve complaints quickly and informally where possible. Where this is not possible, or would be inappropriate, it provides independent investigation of such complaints. Where the complaint is against a Member, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has oversight of the investigation from the receipt of the initial assessment until delivery of the final report.
If there is a finding that there has been bullying or misconduct as the result of an ICGS investigation, the Parliamentary Commissioner can give words of advice on the Member's reported attitude, behaviour or conduct and require an apology in writing or on the floor of the House by means of a point of order or personal statement.1
Following the Commissioner's decision in an ICGS case, either the complainant or respondent Member may appeal to the Independent Expert Panel (IEP). The Commissioner may also refer the case to the Panel for determination of sanction. The Chair of the Panel will appoint a sub-panel of three members to decide the appeal (if any) and, if a complaint has been upheld, the sanction. The respondent can appeal the sub-panel's decision on sanction: a different sub-panel will be appointed to hear the appeal. If the appeal against sanction is upheld, the sub-panel will normally reduce or change the sanction but may keep it the same. If the appeal is dismissed, the sanction determined by the first sub-panel will normally stand.
Sub-panels have the power to impose sanctions that do not affect the core functions of a Member, including those sanctions that could also be imposed by the Commissioner. A sub-panel may determine a sanction that affects a Member's core functions, including dismissal from a select committee, suspension and expulsion.2 Where a sub-panel determines such a sanction, it can only be imposed by the House following a report from the Panel. A motion may be moved by a member of the House of Commons Commission to implement the sanction. The motion is not debatable.3 The Recall of MPs Act 2015 is applied to suspensions following a report from the IEP by the requirement in Standing Order No 150E that where a report from an IEP sub-panel contains a determination for a sanction which engages the provisions of the Act (a suspension of 10 or more sitting days/14 or more calendar days), the Committee on Standards shall make a report to the House recommending a suspension equal to that recommended by the sub-panel, to run concurrently with it.
- 1. Votes and Proceedings, 21 April 2021, HC Deb (21 April 2021) 1088; see also Committee on Standards, Twelfth Report of Session 2019–2021, Sanctions and confidentiality in the House's standards system: revised proposals, HC 1340, para 10(b); HC Deb (21 April 2021) 692, c 1074 ff.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. SO No 150D.