Sixteen members of parliament (MPs) have called for changes to the recently proposed recall bill – whereby failing MPs can be ousted by voters – which they say “falls far short of public expectations” in its current form.
On the anniversary of the expenses scandal, the Daily Telegraph has published a letter from Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs who are preparing to table a commons motion next week. The group includes Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas and David Davis.
The motion will consider the sacking of MPs who are deemed to be failing in their duties, declaring that an MP would lose their position “if a majority has lost confidence in them, for whatever reason, and if enough voters sign a petition to trigger a recall vote”.
In a recent Blue & Green Tomorrow survey, conducted with Vote for Policies for The Guide to Sustainable Democracy, 93% of 6,999 respondents said MP recall for constituencies would improve the UK’s democracy. Only 2% said it would worsen it.
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The letter to the Telegraph describes in particular the need to revive a voter-MP relationship, arguing that a “genuine voter recall system would boost accountability, empower voters and help settle the strained relationship between people and their politicians”.
The government has been committed to enforcing such a proposal, a draft recall bill set for inclusion in next month’s Queen’s Speech. However, the draft is expected to enforce an MP committee to retain power over the recall vote – and not the electorate.
This is regardless of the coalition government’s promise in 2010, which stated, “We will bring forward early legislation 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 a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”
The campaign group 38 degrees has launched its own petition on recall, which is likely to gain significant support from the public. The letter from the MPs concludes, “It’s time for parties to honour their promise in full.”
Photo: Tony Hall via Flickr