Clause 4 — Effect of ceasing to be a member

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 pm on 28th February 2014.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Shadow Minister (Justice) (Political and Constitutional Reform) 12:00 pm, 28th February 2014

Jacob Rees-Mogg has raised a serious issue and I have given it a lot of thought. It has been pointed out to me by experts on this matter outside the House that previous proposals for reform of the other place have included some sort of cooling-off period and that it should, therefore, be considered as part of the Bill.

When the hon. Gentleman moved his earlier amendments, he discussed the risk of this becoming a standard part of career progression, which is a fair point. However, we also have to balance that risk with the arguments made by other hon. Members during this debate. The decisive argument that leads me not to support the amendments is that made just now by the promoter of the Bill, Dan Byles, namely that I cannot defend the principle of barring a UK citizen from standing for election simply on the basis of their previous occupation.

I accept that there is a risk, albeit a relatively slim one, of the system being abused. On the other hand, there could be some advantage to people who have experience of the other place standing for this place. I think it is fair to say that, whatever our different views about the composition of the other place and the method of appointment and lack of election to it, it is often better than we are at the scrutiny and of Bills. If a small number of people with experience of scrutiny and revision in the other place came to this place, that might not be such a bad thing. On balance—this is a finely balanced argument—I come down against the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for North East Somerset and hope that he will withdraw it.