Clause 1 — How an MP becomes subject to a recall petition process

Part of Bill Presented — International Trade Agreements (Scrutiny) – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Minister of State (Universities and Science), Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 7:30 pm, 27th October 2014

I repeat what I said on Second Reading: I think there is a strong case to extend these provisions to other elected bodies, but the Bill proposed by our manifestos and the coalition agreement related to this place.

Amendment 41, tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh, would not allow speeches, questions or voting to be reasons for recall. I completely sympathise with my hon. Friend’s intention. Having served under his chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee, I saw the ferocity of his interrogation of some witnesses, and were they misfortunate enough to be his constituents, that might well lead them to trigger a recall petition, which would be completely inappropriate.

I am afraid, however, that the amendment would have unforeseen consequences. Specifically, the suspension of a Member for tabling parliamentary questions in return for payment might be precisely the sort of misconduct for which this Bill is designed to trigger recall. Therefore, to exclude questions, speeches and so on would not serve the purpose that my hon. Friend and I would wish to see, but I understand and agree with the spirit behind his amendment. When we come to Report and as the Bill progresses, I will reflect seriously on the issue. If he will join me in a conversation about that, I will see what we can do at the next stage.

I hope I have given a reasonable assessment of the Government’s take on the amendments and that the Committee can continue its debate on that basis.