Jo Swinson champions ‘people power’

In the House of Commons this week, Jo has called on MPs to make Parliament more accountable to the public.

A Liberal Democrat-led debate on Monday followed recent scandals in which four members of the House of Lords have been accused of accepting money for making changes to the law. Jo raised the question of whether voters should have the power to call a by-election to remove their MPs from the House of Commons in response to dishonesty and sleaze.

On Tuesday, Jo questioned Jack Straw over the recent scandals, and suggested that one way to clean up our political system is to bring forward plans for an elected House of Lords.

Commenting, Jo said:

“Far too often Parliament is being brought into disrepute, whether by the misuse of expenses or alleged cash for amendments. The public understandably feels disillusioned when MPs show a lack of integrity, and people feel there’s little they can do about it. It is ridiculous that in this day and age the House of Lords is not answerable to the public at all. We must make politics more accountable to the people we are working for – the public. One way to do that is to let voters elect people to the House of Lords. Another is to make sure constituents can remove MPs who are not up to the job, whether there is a general election coming up or not.”

Jo’s questions were as follows:

02.02.2009 question to David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome

My honourable friend is right to talk about the need for Commons reform, particularly to make sure that Parliament takes power back from the Executive and has the ability to scrutinise. Does he agree that we need to give power back to our constituents to scrutinise what we do, whether through transparency on expenses or giving them the right, if a certain percentage of them sign a petition, to recall their Member of Parliament and hold a by-election?

03.02.2009 question to Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice

Recent events have shown the clear and urgent need to clean up our political system, so I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State saying that he will consider introducing measured that command widespread support. May I therefore urge him to include in the constitutional renewal Bill a provision that has widespread support and for which the House has already voted – that for an elected House of Lords?

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