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 7:00 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) 7:00 pm, 27th October 2014

I learnt to take a rational approach during my many happy years working with my right hon. Friend, so he will forgive me if I apply it here. I will move on to talk about the point he makes later. Suffice it to say that if the figure of 10% was reached, that would trigger a by-election in which the Member could of course stand. I know that he has personal experience of doing that. Indeed, I campaigned for his successful re-election.

Let me reflect on some of the concerns raised on Second Reading that are germane—you will be relieved to hear, Mr Amess—to the amendments before us. Members were concerned that a process that allowed recall for any reason could be put to vexatious use in a number of different respects. First, it could be used to hound someone out of office because of honestly held and sincerely expressed views. Secondly, it could be used to wage a war of attrition, with recall petition after recall petition being opened by just 5% of the electorate who have conceived a grievance against a sitting MP. Thirdly, it could be used for limitless expenditure on propaganda intended to destabilise an MP, by vested interests that the MP might be brave in confronting, well before any spending limits for an actual recall petition kicked in.