HC Deb 11 July 1995 vol 263 cc527-8W
Mr. Menzies Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints of sexual harassment have been filed by service women in the Army, Navy and RAF in the last 10 years; in how many cases disciplinary proceedings were instituted; and what were the results of these proceedings. [32667]

Mr. Soames

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the procedure followed when a complaint is received from a service woman of sexual harassment. [32668]

Mr. Soames

The policy of the armed forces is that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and complaints are taken very seriously. Complaints are to be investigated sensitively and as quickly as possible. An informal complaint may be made and resolved at unit level. Formal complaints can be made through the redress of complaint procedure established under the Service Discipline Acts. Normally a complaint would be dealt with by the commanding officer, but if it cannot be resolved at that level or the complainant is dissatisfied, it may be referred up the chain of command and ultimately to the Admiralty, Army or Air Force Board. In addition, officers may ask for a service board's decision to be referred to the Sovereign. Following an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, service personnel have since 1 February 1995 been able to make complaints direct to an industrial tribunal with a three-month time limit, in line with the provision for civilian employees. If complaints are upheld, appropriate disciplinary or administrative action would be taken against those found responsible.