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 5:15 pm on 27th October 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park 5:15 pm, 27th October 2014

I would argue that that is exactly what the coalition Government have attempted to do, but they have failed. It is very hard to define wrongdoing by a Member of Parliament, because our jobs mean something different from constituency to constituency. Any number of Committees, my own included, have attempted to define wrongdoing by MPs, but it is almost impossible to do so. For example, an amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats, with support from Members of other parties, suggests that an MP who engages in “gross dereliction of duty” would qualify for their new trigger for recall, but how is it possible to define the duty of MPs when there is no job description? Would that include an MP who never turns up to Parliament to vote? I suspect not, because if it did we would have a problem with Sinn Fein and open a whole can of worms that many Members would not want to open at this stage.

Those amendments are a complete waste of time because it is impossible to define wrongdoing. The only people who are qualified to define whether an MP is behaving well or badly and living up to expectations or not are the people that MP represents. That is why the protection needs to be in the threshold, not in the definition.