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 6:30 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Liberal Democrat, Somerton and Frome 6:30 pm, 27th October 2014

So many Members have now referred to me as a member of the Privy Council that I think I must have received that status by acclamation. Will someone please tell the Deputy Prime Minister that I obviously behave as though I were a member of that august club, although I am not?

I assure the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife that the arrangements would be identical to those that currently govern election courts and election petitions. However, if someone were clearly initiating vexatious proceedings, as is the case with the present election courts, the court could, if it wished, award costs against the petitioner, and might well do so if it felt that the process was being abused.

I hope that I have answered all the questions that have been asked. I am sorry to have spoken at such great length, Mr Amess, but I have done so mainly in response to interventions, which seems to be par for the course this evening. Let me end by saying that I think that my new clause is objective, and that it fulfils some of what Members on both sides of the Committee want to achieve. I do not claim that the drafting is perfect and cannot be improved, but I hope that the new clause will begin a process of discussion which may reach a conclusion allowing for many of the things that the hon. Member for Richmond Park and some of his supporters want to see achieved without opening the door to what some people equally adamantly do not want to see achieved, which is Members of Parliament being in constant fear of recall on the basis that they have voted to the displeasure of someone very rich in their constituency.