Not so long ago and for differing reasons than I am addressing now I suggested that MP’s should be supported by people who are seconded from the Civil Service. My concern then was about the cost of MP’s to the public purse and the always worrying issue of their staff getting involved in doing what could easily be seen as party political work whilst the public purse (you and me) are paying for it.
But the most recent revelations about sexual harassment in Parliament has in my view confirmed that my previous suggestion would also be right because it could help address this latest embarrassing Whitehall disgrace at the heart of power in the UK.
In effect MP’s are very small individual employers at present, with maybe each one hiring a handful of full and part time employees using public money to do it. The fact that some of these employees have seemingly not had any basic employment protections and have at times been effectively stopped from making complaints about sexual harassment associated with doing their jobs is an utter disgrace.
It’s time to take the employment of support staff of MP’s away from from the MP’s and into the hands of the Civil Service. Such a move would lead to the activities they are asked to take part in being carefully monitored for the cost to the public purse and any doubt about them being used to support party political activities. But it would also have the effect of giving them full and clear employment protections, trade unions they can join and a complaints process to use with confidence when they are being treated in unacceptable ways.
But let’s face it this is unlikely to happen and some ineffective papering over the cracks is the most likely outcome as our failing democratic structures slip further down into the gutter as far as UK citizens are concerned.