Speaker John Bercow was last night told by Theresa May to 'respond fully and promptly' to a new report that concluded the staff of MPs face 'an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment' in Parliament.
The hard-hitting independent investigation heard that some people who work for MPs have to cope with 'very serious sexual assault' and having heavy objects thrown at them in bouts of 'uncontrollable rage'.
Gemma White QC said there was a 'significant problem' about the way some MPs treated those who worked for them.
The Prime Minister has urged the speaker to take action to stop MPs mistreating staff, as reported by The Daily Telegraph.
The Prime Minister has urged the speaker to take action to stop MPs mistreating staff
Speaker John Bercow could be grilled by MPs for the first time about allegations of bullying
Mrs May's official spokesman said: 'There can be no place for bullying or abuse in Westminster or any workplace and it's important that the parliamentary leadership now responds fully and promptly to the concerns raised in this deeply worrying report.'
The Speaker, who is chair of the House of Commons Commission which looks after the discplinary process, could be grilled by MPs for the first time about allegations of bullying.
The new report into inappropriate conduct in Westminster concluded the staff of MPs face 'an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment'.
It contained claims that some staff had been the victim of unwelcome sexual advances involving 'breasts being grabbed' and 'buttocks being slapped'.
It said recent steps taken by the Commons authorities to address the issues had been insufficient as witnesses told the investigation that speaking out against abuse was 'career suicide'.
They also raged that they are treated as MPs' 'b**ches' and forced to help look after their children, pets and personal errands.
The inquiry demands the existing complaints procedure is improved and expanded to allow people to bring forward allegations of historic wrongdoing.
The current system only permits complaints to be made which relate to events which took place after June 2017 but Gemma White QC said in her new report that date must be scrapped.
The report is likely to send a shock wave across Westminster after some of the witnesses who gave evidence to the investigation painted a grim picture of life working in Parliament.
One person told the inquiry: 'As long as getting political jobs in Parliament are dependent on who you know and who you're related to, sexual harassment will be a necessary evil for ambitious young… people like me who will choose our careers over our comfort every time.'
Another said: 'My time working for [MP] was the most stressful and hostile period of my life.
'My entire sense of self was crushed, and by the end, I felt incapable and incompetent, despite all of the work I had done in that office.'
Another contributor said: '[The MP] absolutely crushed my confidence and made me feel worthless.'
The new report by Gemma White QC is likely to send a shock wave across Westminster
Gemma White's report said 'strong party and personal loyalties' within parliament represented 'significant barriers' to complaints being made
The report concluded that 'most Members of Parliament treat their staff with dignity and respect' but the problems of bullying and harassment are 'sufficiently widespread to require an urgent collective response'.
'Some staff of Members of Parliament are subject to an unacceptable risk of bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, at work,' it said.
Ms Truss told reporters today that the Commons was 'antediluvian with many archaic practices'
The House of Commons needs a comprehensive 'modernisation' of its working practices to protect staff, a senior minister said today.
Liz Truss hit out at the 'archaic' nature of Westminster politics, saying it needed a 'root and branch' reform fit for the 21st century.
She told reporters today: 'I still think it is antediluvian with many archaic practices.
'We need to modernise things like staff recruitment, staff management. And that applies to everybody, including the Speaker of the House.
'It is simply not good enough in the 21st century, where we are going around lecturing other employers about how they deal with sexism, how they deal with representation, how they deal with bullying, but not to get our own house in order.'
The report found that some MPs asked their staff to carry out tasks which are 'plainly not parliamentary work' like looking after children and pets and running personal errands.
One witness said: '[w]ith the job of Parliamentary Assistant or Researcher you do become their b**ch.
'It's a bit like The Devil Wears Prada – you end up just doing personal stuff, no respect for hours, annual leave. You are expected to put 100 per cent of your life into it.'
The report also detailed examples of unwelcome sexual advances which were 'often accompanied by attempts at kissing'.
Ms White wrote: 'Many involved some form of unwanted touching: for example breasts being grabbed, buttocks being slapped, thighs being stroked and crotches being pressed/rubbed against bodies.
'Most of these experiences were isolated, but some were part of a course of conduct on the part of a Member or fellow member of staff.'
The report's recommendation of opening up the existing complaints procedure to old allegations is likely to spark controversy with such a move having previously been resisted by senior figures in Parliament.
Ms White also said the process should be opened up so that former staff can make complaints.
The report said: 'To date, the group of MPs' staff who would be most likely to bring a complaint under the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, namely former staff of MPs, have been denied the right to do so.
'This limitation must be removed so that they have the opportunity to hold MPs to account.
'They must also be permitted to complain about events which took place before June 2017 (the