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The public will be given the right to recall their local MP if they are found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing under proposals announced today. The proposals fulfil a commitment made in the Programme for Government as part of the political reform agenda

In a draft Bill published today, the Government is proposing to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents. At the last general election the manifestos of all three of the main parties included a commitment to establish a recall mechanism.

Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform said:

This is an important part of the Government’s programme of measures designed to help restore trust in our political system. If an MP has been found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing, they should not be able to retain their seat with impunity until the next general election.  Our proposals would allow constituents to decide whether or not an MP should retain their seat.

"Our intention is to establish a recall mechanism which is transparent, robust and fair. In publishing the draft Bill we are seeking to trigger a debate about how recall could be implemented in the UK."

The draft Bill is being published for pre-legislative scrutiny and sets out two triggers for a recall petition: firstly where an MP is convicted in the UK of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less, and secondly where the House of Commons resolves, through a vote by MPs, that a recall petition should be opened. The first trigger will close a gap in the existing legislation whereby MPs are only disqualified if they receive a custodial sentence of more than 12 months. The second trigger is an additional disciplinary power for the House of Commons, which for the first time allows constituents to have their say in deciding whether their MP should stay in office.

The petition will be administered by the local returning officer and will be open for a period of 8 weeks. If 10% of eligible constituents sign the petition, the MP’s seat will be vacated and a by-election will be held.


Written by Scott Buckler
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 11:11

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