MPs have demanded John Prescott take urgent action to end bullying and discrimination against staff in his department.
A survey last year found that 10% of staff at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) felt they had been bullied in the past year, 8% had experienced discrimination and 6% reported harassment.
Some 22% of staff had witnessed unfair treatment, and a larger proportion of black or black British staff (14%) had experienced discrimination than other staff.
The survey also found disabled people were more likely to have suffered discrimination. One-third of staff did not know how to report unfair treatment.
A Commons select committee took Prescott to task for failing to appear before the MPs to give his own account of the state of his department.
“We believe that the most senior minister in a department should make himself available to a parliamentary select committee when his presence is sought,” it said.
The committee demanded that the department should take steps immediately to reinforce the message that bullying and intimidation is unacceptable.
Peter Housden, the ODPM permanent secretary, promised to “put in place robust measures to address these concerns”. This included a training programme for managers to reduce bullying and discrimination, he said.