Recall of Honourable Members

Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 12th February 2013.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 11:30 am, 12th February 2013

What recent progress he has made on a policy on recall of hon. Members.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

The Government have confirmed that we remain committed to establishing a recall mechanism. We are now taking proper time to consider the relevant Select Committee’s recommendations.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

I was rather thrown by that reply. What I want to know is whether recall will commence after allegations are well established and the scandal is public, or at the point when there is an admission or finding of guilt. If the latter, how does that differ substantially from what already happens?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

As I think the hon. Gentleman knows—if not and if confusion persists, I am happy to take it up with him outside the Chamber—the coalition put forward a set of proposals that included a double set of conditions: first, that the Member should have been found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing; and secondly, that at least 10% of constituents should have signed a petition calling for the recall. In our proposals, the first of those conditions contained two triggers. It is now for the House and the Government to work together to make sure that that works. We must be sure not to trespass on the House’s exclusive cognisance—I think the hon. Gentleman knows that and of course you do, Mr Speaker —and I look forward to ensuring that the process is transparent, robust and fair.

Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

Given that this is the one meaningful political reform the coalition is likely to be able to deliver, please will the Minister explain the delay? It is a simple matter and I have done the work for her by producing a Bill, which is sitting there in the books. Can she guarantee that the reform will go through before the next election?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Like you, Mr Speaker, I am a great respecter of Parliament, so I suspect that I should not guarantee anything, but my intention is to bring forward proposals on which I look forward to working with my hon. Friend and all others who take an interest. As I said, the process ought to be transparent, robust and fair, and I look forward to making sure that it meets that quality mark.