MPs should not be stripped of their seats for political reasons or “laziness” under plans for “recall” elections, Nick Clegg has said. MPs accused of serious wrongdoing could be forced to stand down and face a by-election if enough voters demand it. But the deputy PM said “recall” must be “a backstop sanction rather than something that would be used – or abused – for political purposes”. He told a committee of MPs he did not want it to become a “kangaroo court”. Proposals to introduce recall elections were drawn up by all three main parties at Westminster in the wake of the the 2009 expenses scandal. But political and constitutional reform committee chairman, Labour MP Graham Allen, said the idea, contained in a draft bill, was unpopular with MPs who believed Mr Clegg was “fighting yesterday’s battle”.
Mr Clegg conceded that the worst expenses offenders had been dealt with by the courts and there were already procedures in place to remove MPs from office if they were jailed for 12 months or more. But he said the recall plan was still needed as a “backstop” in cases where MPs had been jailed for less than 12 months or if MPs decided they were guilty of “serious wrongdoing”. He said it would be up to the House of Commons, in a vote of all MPs, to decide what constituted “serious wrongdoing”.