The government should abandon its plan to allow voters to sack MPs mid-term, a Commons committee has said. In a report published on Thursday the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said the proposed powers of recall were so weak that they could actually reduce the public’s confidence in politics. In December last year the government published a draft Bill that proposed that MPs found guilty of “serious wrongdoing” could be being kicked out of parliament if 10% of voters in a constituency signed a petition against them. But under the plans a petition could only be held if they were first censured by a vote in the House of Commons and could not be triggered by voters themselves. A by-election would also automatically take place if an MP was convicted of a criminal offence and was sentenced to less than a year in prison.
Labour MP Graham Allen, the chair of the committee, said: “It is vital that there is public confidence in the political process. But the restricted form of recall proposed by the government risks creating the illusion that people will have a say in recalling their elected representative while ensuring that this will probably never happen in practice.” He added: “There is a real danger that this could alienate people still further.”
The committee said the coalition should ditch its plan and instead use the freed up parliamentary time “to better effect”. “Voters themselves would not be able to initiate a recall petition, and the circumstances in which a petition would be triggered are limited,” the report notes. “This reduces the risk of vexatious attempts to remove MPs, but leads us to question whether such a narrow form of recall is worth introducing at all.” However the MPs acknowledge that the government is unlikely to ditch its Bill given the introduction of a power of recall was included in the coalition agreement.