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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Prescott office in bully pledge
John Prescott
Mr Prescott has been in the media spotlight in recent days
Significant changes have been promised at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister after criticism of bullying and discrimination in the department.

The government has said there will be more training for managers to ensure "a positive climate" for all employees.

In a staff survey last year, one in 10 workers claimed to have been victimised and 22% had witnessed some form of unfair treatment of colleagues.

The Commons committee monitoring the department branded this "unacceptable".

MPs told officials they must "take steps immediately to reinforce the message that bullying and intimidation is unacceptable".

In response to the committee's findings, which were published on 26 January, the department said it did not tolerate any form of harassment and "took the issue very seriously".

Prescott affair

A programme of "skills and awareness training has already been put in place for all senior and middle managers", it added, "to ensure that the organisation creates a positive climate for all staff".

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has also apologised to the committee's chairwoman, Dr Phyllis Starkey (Lab, Milton Keynes SW), for failing to give evidence to its inquiry.

This was blamed on the extra responsibilities Mr Prescott had taken on because of Britain's presidency of the European Union last year.

The department said it was happy to "engage" with the committee on ways to present a balanced picture of its achievements.

It rejected accusations of double-counting and overlaps between its targets.

This was in response to criticism that a previous account of its apparent successes had been "unjustifiably favourable".

The department has been in the spotlight in recent days following revelations about Mr Prescott's affair with his diary secretary Tracey Temple.

Prescott office in bullying claim
26 Jan 06 |  Politics

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