MPs ordered to 'take anti-racism classes'

MPs are ordered to ‘take anti-racism classes’ after report revealed some were ‘getting black staff’s names wrong or mixing them up with other BAME colleagues’

  • House of Commons reportedly rolling out unconscious bias training for MPs
  • Sir Keir Starmer has already introduced the training for all Labour Party staff
  • Meanwhile, new group set up in Parliament to tackle discrimination and racism 

MPs will be told to take unconscious bias training as part of a new drive to tackle discrimination and racism in Parliament, according to reports. 

The House of Commons is set to launch a pilot programme which will seek to teach MPs about their potential unconscious prejudices. 

Meanwhile, a new group is being established to push for reform and to make sure staff concerns about inequality are taken seriously. 

It comes after research found that minority staff were more likely to be asked to show their security passes on the parliamentary estate and after cases of managers getting BAME colleagues mixed up.            

Unconscious bias training has been offered to House of Common staff since 2016.

The classes will now be rolled out to MPs as well but there are concerns that the proposed pilot is not enough. 

The House of Commons is reportedly rolling out a pilot programme to provide MPs with unconscious bias training

One black former member of Commons staff told The Times: ‘Mandatory unconscious bias training has been in place in parliament for years now and it has not made any difference to the racism experienced by black staff.

‘The Dame Laura Cox report should have sparked radical change but for black staff it did not.’ 

Research published in February this year by parliament’s minority workplace network Parlireach reported cases of senior managers getting the names of BAME staff wrong or of ‘mixing them up with other BAME colleagues’. 

Parlireach also found that BAME staff were more likely to be stopped by security guards and asked to show their security pass.  

The decision to provide unconscious bias training to MPs comes after Sir Keir Starmer said in July that it was being introduced for all Labour staff. 

Sir Keir said at the time that he was going to lead from the top on this and do that training first’. 

Speaking amid widespread Black Lives Matter protests, the Labour leader said he believed ‘everybody should have unconscious bias training’ and that ‘it is important’. 

Meanwhile, figures on the Commons Executive Board have pledged to make improvements amid concerns that a series of major reviews into bullying and discrimination have failed to result in effective action being taken. 

John Benger, the clerk of the House, is chairing a new group set up in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement to take on discrimination, according to The Times. 

Mr Benger is said to have told staff in a message that he recognised the ‘power, privilege and responsibility that comes with my position’. 

He pledged to ‘tackle racism, remove barriers and work for a more diverse and representative House of Commons’.

In a statement, the House of Commons said: ‘Racism has no place in Parliament. We recognise that we need to be open in our conversations about it and are committed to change.

‘Our priority is to create a truly inclusive workplace, in which everyone is treated with respect and can thrive. 

‘We acknowledge that we still have work to do and we are listening, learning and taking action to remove barriers and better reduce inequality for the future.’   

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