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

The right hon. Gentleman—everyone who has contributed today seems to be right hon. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Of course Parliament, and election to it, should be the subject of significant debate on issues of contention; that is the purpose of Parliament, and of standing for election. Therefore, it is not right to assume that any challenge to an MP would be, in and of itself, vexatious—quite the opposite—but at times it might be possible for people with less high-minded motives to take that approach.

Let me briefly address the principal amendments and new clauses in this group. Amendment 1 and new clause 1, tabled and spoken to by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park, would delete the two conduct-related triggers for the recall of an MP and replace them with a system of petition-based recall for any reason, to be initiated by 5% of the electorate signing a notice of intent to recall. That would trigger an official recall petition that, if signed by 20% of the electorate within eight weeks, would lead to a recall referendum. If the majority of those voting in that referendum voted for recall, the seat would be vacated and a by-election called. There is nothing to stop repeated, or even parallel, notice of recall petitions being lodged, all with attendant publicity and each requiring only 5% of the electorate to sign, meaning that an MP could suffer a prolonged bombardment of negative publicity in that way.