Recall of MPs Bill receives royal assent

26 March 2015

The Recall of MPs Bill received royal assent, becoming law, on Thursday 26 March.

Find out more about the bill's passage through the Lords 

Lords third reading: Monday 2 March

Members of the Lords began by discussing how an MP becomes a subject of the recall process, and how long an MP should be suspended for before there could be a petition for a by-election. They also asked how long the recall petition period should last, before agreeing to reduce it from eight to six weeks.

Lords report stage: Tuesday 10 February

Members of the Lords discussed amendments on how an MP would become subject to a recall process. They also considered several suggestions to change how the new system will work in practice, including where and when a 'recall petition' may be signed, and who is entitled to sign it.

The first vote was on the issue of whether or not a recall petition would be a completely public act. Members voted 195 in favour and 213 against, so the change was not made.

Peers then voted on an amendment to ensure normal rules on funding and donations apply to all campaigners during a recall process. The change was not made after members voted 45 in favour and 99 against.

Lords committee stage day one: Monday 19 January

Members of the Lords discussed how recall petitions will work in practice, and a suggestion for more 'signing venues' in certain constituencies. A proposal to reduce the petition signing period from eight weeks to two weeks was also considered.

Lords committee stage day one: Wednesday 14 January

Members of the Lords discussed how an MP becomes subject to a recall petition process and suggested changes to the recall process.  

Lords second reading: Wednesday 17 December

Government spokesperson, Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Conservative), introduced the bill as one which fulfilled a coalition commitment to deliver a recall mechanism to hold MPs to account where they have been found guilty of wrongdoing.

Members of the Lords broadly welcomed the bill, but highlighted a number of concerns, including the length of time taken to produce the legislation and whether sufficient safeguards will be in place to ensure the recall mechanism cannot be manipulated. Practical issues, including costs, were also discussed.

Recall of MPs Bill summary

The bill provides for a recall petition to be triggered if a member is sentenced to a prison term or is suspended from the House for at least 21 sitting days. If either occurred, the Speaker would give notice to a petition officer, who in turn would give notice to parliamentary electors in the constituency.

A petition would then be open for signing for eight weeks. If at the end of that period at least 10 per cent of eligible electors had signed the petition, the seat would be declared vacant and a by-election would follow. The member who was recalled could stand in the by-election.

The bill also introduces rules on the conduct of the recall petition, including campaign spending limits for those supporting and opposing recalling the member.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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