Coalition to give power back to the voters

In the House of Commons last week, Jo called on the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to say when constituents will be given the right to recall MPs found guilty of wrongdoing.

The coalition government has announced that it will bring forward a new law that would give the public the ability to remove any MP who is found guilty of wrongdoing by presenting a petition signed by 10% of his or her constituents, which would trigger a by-election.

Nick Clegg replied that the legislation will be brought forward next year for MPs to vote on.

Commenting, Jo said:

“It is clearly ridiculous that where an MP has been found guilty of corruption or serious wrongdoing, their constituents have to wait until a General Election is called before they have the chance to get rid of them. Last year I co-sponsored a bill to introduce such a law, but without the support of the then Labour government it could not be passed.

“Before the election, all three main parties supported introducing the right of recall. Although the Labour Party is now opposing democratic measures such as electoral reform, even though it was in their manifesto, I hope they will not try to block this important bill to give power back to electorate.”

The question of Jo’s question to the Deputy Prime Minister appears below:

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): A vital part of rebuilding trust in our political system is giving constituents the power to call a by-election if their MP has been found guilty of wrongdoing. I am delighted that the right of recall is in the coalition agreement, but can my right hon. Friend tell us when he will bring forward legislation to implement this?

The Deputy Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right. By the time the election was called, I think that all parties had a manifesto commitment to introduce a power of recall, whereby if it were proved that a Member of Parliament was guilty of serious wrongdoing, his or her constituents would not have to wait until the next general election to cast judgment on the fitness of that individual to continue to represent them, but would be able to trigger a process of recall by a petition from 10% of constituents. We intend to bring forward that proposal in legislation next year, and I hope that it will enjoy cross-party support.

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