House of Cards
Matthew JAMISON | 09.09.2015 | WORLD / Europe | HISTORY

House of Cards

Britain has prided herself on her Parliamentary democracy over the ages. The British politician and reformer John Bright in a speech at Birmingham on 18 January 1865 declared that the British Parliament was the «Mother of all Parliaments»The Houses of Parliament in Westminster, British MPs trumpet, is a shining beacon of a democratic legislature upholding the rule of law and human rights.

The House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords make the laws of the land that govern the country in all spheres of life – from the home and the local council to the workplace – to the school, health & safety and equalities. However, would you be surprised to learn that most MPs run their offices in total disregard to the laws which they have helped pass on to the statuette book? Many MPs believe they are above the law or even more disturbing, they think they are the law.

One such MP who a friend was working for had not implemented a single piece of Health & Safety law, Equalities law or Employment law in the running of their office. Unfortunately for my friend, this MP had been subjecting him to a yearlong systematic campaign of harassment and abuse because of pure jealousy. Everyone in the House of Commons thought my friend was the MP and the MP he worked for was his Researcher. Needless to say, this bruised the fragile and wild ego of the MP who decided to wage psychological warfare upon my vulnerable friend in order to get rid of him without firing him, as there were no grounds to sack him outright. MPs are in effect small businesses. They are completely in charge of the running, organisation and administration of their Offices both at Westminster and back in the constituency. They possess the sole power to hire and fire, to discipline and deal with work-place grievances (even when the grievance is against them). There is no independent, in-house, Human Resources Department for MPs staff, which staff members can access in the event they are being harassed or bullied in the workplace. There is a Human Resources Department in the House of Commons, which exists solely for the benefit, service and protection of the MP.

After the disgusting Expenses Scandal of 2009 the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown decided MPs could not be trusted to administer their own expense budgets. An external watchdog called the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was set up to take charge of MPs budgets. All expense claims must now be approved by IPSA and all staff contracts regarding remuneration, job title and job description must conform to IPSA’s guidelines. Yet, MPs where left in charge of the management of their offices Human Resources policies, health and safety policies and employment and equality policies. MPs are in effect the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to their staff. If a staff member has a problem with the MP they work for they are at the mercy of the MP. Even if they raise a formal grievance in accordance with British employment law against the MP they work for, it is still within the power of the MP to set up a Grievance Hearing to assess the validity and legitimacy of the employees grievances.

It is the MP in conjunction with the House of Commons HR Department who decide who will act as the so-called «independent and impartial» chairman to hear the grievances of the employee and then at the end of the process it is the MP who gets to decide what the final verdict is – not an independent and impartial HR body. The MP in effect rigs the process from the outset with the help and guidance of the House of Commons HR department.

The Commons HR Department source so-called HR professionals who come in and act as the MPs hired hit-man, for a substantial fee, in effect a bribe. This flies completely in the face of UK employment law and is a violation of basic Grievance handling. My friend had his encrypted parliamentary email account accessed without his permission or knowledge and his emails were trolled through by the so-called «Independent Chairman» who then attempted to use these emails against him. This was done in complete violation of Data Protection Laws and with the full knowledge and help of the MP, the House of Commons computer technicians and the corrupt Commons HR Department.

The House of Commons HR Department also runs a corrupt cartel for dodgy solicitors. The woman who worked for the Commons HR department and advised my friend’s MP during the Grievance Process – brought in former colleagues from her old law firm to write up false and inaccurate reports against my friend in complete violation of British employment law – and then these corrupt solicitors were paid handsomely with taxpayer funds. The old adage «I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine» reigns supreme at Westminster. The trade union, Unite, which represented my friend during the Grievance Process, was unfortunately no better. By the end of the process my friend had to dismiss his Unite representative who was clearly acting more in the interests of the MP than their fellow trade union member. My friend was given less than 24 hours to study and sign a Settlement Agreement and when he complained to his Unite representative he was told: «sign it or you are on your own» and «if you don’t sign it I will turn the union against you». In the end, the entire Grievance Process lasted eight months, involved three «external» solicitors and one so-called «independent HR professional» which ran up a massive bill paid from public money by the MP.

The House of Commons has become such an un-happy and unprofessional place to work in the Speaker of the Commons, the Rt. Hon John Bercow MP, had to set up a help-line for MPs staff to contact for mental health assistance. Yet this was nothing more than an exercise in window dressing. I was nonplussed to learn that the counseling provided by this mental health group was only conducted via telephone. Surely, a patient must be able to form a human connection with their counselor by being in the same room with them, face to face, especially as they are discussing such sensitive and delicate issues? This calls into question the moral authority and legitimacy of British MPs lecturing other countries on the rule of law, human rights and democracy when British MPs do not even implement and uphold the very laws which they pass for the rest of the citizenry. The Mother of all Parliaments should put its own House in order before lecturing others. Parliamentarians in glass Houses, shouldn’t throw stones.

Tags: UK