Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, last night (27th Oct) backed Zac Goldsmith’s amendments to the Recall Bill, which would give constituents the power to recall a misbehaving MP.
Unfortunately in a vote, the majority of MPs voted against the amendments.
Alan said: “ I backed these amendments because I think it is right that MPs should be more accountable to their constituents. What we are now left with is the Government’s version of the Recall Bill, which is pretty weak and is not about empowering the electorate. It’s a damp squib which would allow recall of an MP in very narrow circumstances – when there is misconduct or a criminal offence which results in a prison term of less than a year.
Unfortunately Zac’s amendments failed – a huge missed opportunity as far as I’m concerned. I’m now going to back Labour’s amendments to the Bill so we have a hope of making the Government’s proposals stronger. Constituents should be able to hold their MP to account more than twice a decade.”
- Zac Goldsmith hatched a plan which would allow constituents to recall their MP for any reason. These amendments to the Bill would have meant that an MP would face a recall referendum if 5% of voters in a constituency sign a "notice of intent to recall" and 20% then sign a "recall petition". This would then trigger a by-election.
- The government’s Recall Bill is a response to part of the 2010 coalition agreement. That bill proposes that an MP would face a by-election if 10% of constituents sign a petition after the MP is found guilty of "serious wrongdoing".
- Unfortunately Zac’s amendments were defeated in the Commons when it came to a vote. Labour have now tabled amendments to try to widen the scope of the government’s Bill.