A number of my constiutents have contacted me about the recall of MPs, asking me to sign Early Day Motion 25. As a member of the Government I am precluded from signing EDMs, as doing so is likely to breach the Ministerial Code’s rules on collective responsibility. However, in the recent Queen’s Speech the Government confirmed it will introduce a power of recall where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing. This was a clear commitment in the Coalition’s Programme for Government and is part of the Coalition’s wide ranging reform agenda to restore trust in politics and ensure politicians are accountable to the people they serve.
If MPs are in serious breach of standards and judged to be so, they should not have to wait for a general election to receive the verdict of their constituents. Under the proposals, a recall mechanism would be triggered, and constituents would be given the chance to sign a petition to call for a by-election, where:
• an MP is convicted in the UK of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less (for more than 12 months an MP is automatically expelled); or
• the House of Commons resolves that an MP should face a recall petition for serious wrongdoing.
To be successful a recall petition will need to be signed by at least 10 per cent of the registered voters in the constituency over an eight-week period. This will ensure that MPs don’t face frequent or vexatious petitions and it will add to the House’s existing disciplinary measures.
MPs must not be left vulnerable to attack from those who simply disagree with them or think that they should have voted a different way on a particular measure. The recall model proposed ensures that only those MPs found to have engaged in behaviour that falls below that expected of an MP would face a recall petition.