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 Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 6:30 pm, 27th October 2014

Let me tell the hon. Gentleman what he said a moment ago. I did take notes. He said that it would be very difficult, and that the barriers would be very high. During our debate on Tuesday, he said:

“I know…Members worry that recall might somehow turn us into delegates and no longer representatives…but that is not realistic. Voters care about a wide range of issues”.—[Hansard, 21 October 2014; Vol. 586, c. 796.]

The hon. Gentleman was suggesting that the process would be difficult for some reason, but it will not be difficult. He and those who are backing him are implying that people will not be “picked off” because of the way in which they vote, which is complete nonsense.

In a speech that he made the other day, my right hon. Friend Frank Dobson gave the very good example of his predecessor Lena Jeger, who had argued strongly for abortion reform although her constituency was largely Catholic. Given the thresholds in the Bill, I think that it would have been easy for her to be recalled. Let me give another example. I do not think that the hon. Member for Richmond Park was here when she was in the House, but there was a very courageous Labour Member of Parliament called Ann Cryer, who represented Keighley. In the face of a great many personal threats and a great deal of local hostility, she argued against forced marriages and highlighted the issue of birth defects in the Asian community. She was also one of the first people to talk about issues that have now gained popularity—trafficking and the abuse of white girls in Keighley. She was very unpopular in the constituency.

Is the hon. Gentleman trying to tell me that somehow the Asian community in that constituency, or at least part of it, could not have put Ann Cryer under pressure by means of recall? I do not think that that would have been the case. She would have come under huge pressure. She received death threats on occasion as a result of some of the things that she said, and many of the things that she said were proved to be correct. Courageous people such as Ann Cryer should be free to speak out although large sections of their constituencies consider what they are saying to be wrong, or disagree with them. I think, knowing Ann, that had this measure existed, she would have acted in the same way, but she would have come under a great deal of pressure to temper her views.