Queen’s Speech: Power to kick out MPs branded a ‘stitch up’

THE Coalition was accused of missing out on a chance to restore public faith in politics after watering down plans to give voters the power to kick out errant MPs.

The Queen is escorted through the Norman Porch of the Palace of Westminster to attend the State Opening of Parliament

The Queen’s Speech d promised a new law giving voters the right to “recall” their MP.

But details of the Bill revealed that the power will only apply where an MP is convicted of a criminal offence or where MPs themselves decide one of their colleagues is guilty of “serious wrongdoing”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Critics claimed the Bill would keep the upper hand with MPs and was a missed opportunity just weeks after elections where almost two-thirds of voters failed to take part and thousands among those who cast a ballot turned their backs on the major parties.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who has campaigned on the issue, described the proposed Bill as a “stitch up”.

“It gives recall power to a committee of MPs, not voters and the criteria are so narrow as to make it meaningless.

“At the very first political scandal, voters will learn they have been duped, and will be enraged.

“At a time where the anti-politics vote has never been higher, this is dumb, stubborn politics at its worst.”

The coalition agreement, struck between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats following the last election and in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal, included a promise to allow a by-election to be triggered by a petition signed by 10 per cent of voters.

However, the Bill announced today adds an additional hurdle by giving MPs the power to decide whether their colleague should face a recall petition.

However, MPs receiving prison sentences would automatically face a petition.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This stitch-up will do nothing to restore the trust of voters in politics. It will centralise more power in Westminster, rather than handing it to voters.

“Other measures will make local government and quangos more accountable, and save taxpayers’ money. But the fudge on recall means that the Coalition has missed a tremendous opportunity to leave British democracy a true legacy.”

The Recall Bill is designed to fill the gap left currently by the law which means that while MPs who break the law and receive a prison sentence of 12 months or more are automatically expelled from the Commons, those guilty of less serious criminals offences or breaches of rules and regulations can stay in their seat until a General Election.

The coalition agreement promised “early legislation” to give voters the power to recall MPs.

But the measure has been repeatedly delayed by rows between the two parties over how such a power could work in practice.