The Sun reports this afternoon that recall – the right for voters to sack sitting MPs between elections – may be back on the table:
‘Downing Street today revealed the PM wanted to introduce a “recall” bill in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech. The plans – a key part of the 2010 Coalition agreement – would enable voters to get rid of MPs between elections if enough constituents call for change. The Lib Dems last month claimed the Tories were blocking any push for recall to be introduced. But David Cameron told Cabinet colleagues he wanted recall introduced “when parliamentary time allows”.’
There was a spat a few weeks ago between the coalition parties about the dropping of the proposal. The Lib Dems said that Cameron didn’t want it. The Tories pointed out it was Clegg’s responsibility to introduce it and he had failed to do so.
In reality, as Zac Goldsmith wrote for this site, the Recall Bill which the Deputy Prime Minister proposed was a sham – it offered a severely limited system in which an MP would only be sackable by voters if a committee of other MPs agreed they had behaved badly. It would have been as effective as a chocolate fireguard.
So I’m not jumping for joy yet at today’s news. The important thing is not having something called “the Recall Bill” in the Queen’s Speech, it’s having a Bill which introduces a proper power of recall – a power initiated whenever sufficient voters demand it, not controlled and filtered by parliamentary committees.
As the Political & Constitutional Reform Committee said, the Clegg proposal would simply harm public confidence even further by over-promising and under-delivering. Hopefully the Prime Minister will go for the real thing instead.