I AGREE with many that there appears to be a climate of disrespect towards women in Westminster and Holyrood. This climate needs to change and soon.

For me the easiest way to solve this problem, along with the host of other problems that all staff face in both parliaments, would be to create an independent human resources department that political staff are supported by, not only in the case of sexual harassment and abuse, but also to deal with employment issues holistically. I feel that Holyrood can and should lead the way on this change.

At the moment there is no support to either MSPs or their staff as to how to run their offices and be competent, fair employers. Staff have nowhere, outside of the party of the member that they are employed by, to raise concerns over their treatment. MSPs are deemed to be individual employers and as such have to be their own HR department. This has proven to be disastrous for many Members of Parliament as well as staff.

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Whilst I have been blessed with my employers, there are many staff who are not only harassed, sexually or otherwise, but who are completely taken advantage of and sometimes even bullied by their employer. Many staff are unpaid for extra hours that they have been required to work. Staff are expected to be experts in research and policy, whilst being paid one-third of what their employer makes to use that information. As valuable public servants, without whom members would not be able to carry out their duties effectively, staff deserve the respect and support of a professional HR department, who can not only meet their grievance needs, but also to address training requirements.

Sexual harassment and discrimination should never be a feature of a modern, professional parliament. An effective human resources unit which serves all its staff should be compulsory.

Kirsteen Currie,

Rowanwood, Lamington, Kildary, Invergordon.