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 6:00 pm on 27th October 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Heath David Heath Liberal Democrat, Somerton and Frome 6:00 pm, 27th October 2014

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, but that does not alter the fact that the public will not believe that any mechanism mediated by MPs, either in Committee or on the Floor of the House, is not going to protect MPs. I do not think it a fair criticism, but that prejudice is now impossible to remove, so let us accept it.

I want to find a new way to give the public access to the recall process. As was clear from the exchanges between the hon. Member for Richmond Park and the Labour spokesman, we are talking about behaviour that our constituents cannot accept, rather than views with which they disagree. As I think he knows, I have a lot of sympathy with much of what the hon. Member for Richmond Park is trying to do, and I accept his point about 20% being a difficult level to achieve—somebody would really have to incense their constituents—but I do not accept that 5% would be difficult to achieve for a well-funded campaign or even a political opponent who has lost an election and wants an immediate rerun. He blithely says, “Of course, all Members would probably have a petition process against them”, but that is not a satisfactory position for Members to be in. If someone wants to do radical things in the House and represents a socially conservative constituency, they will face problems of this kind. It does not take much to get 3,500 people to say they do not support gay marriage or some other policy on which we have legislated. I want to concentrate, therefore, on genuine misconduct.