Allowing the public to recall MPs based on what they say and how they vote would be “fundamentally very dangerous,” warns Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh.
Sir Edward tabled an amendment in parliament last week opposing plans from fellow Conservative Zac Goldsmith allowing this, saying it attacked the freedom of MPs to speak their minds.
The Coalition government has a Recall Bill to allow the public to remove MPs between elections should a petition call for it, but only if MPs are suspended for “serious wrongdoing” or receive a prison sentence of more than 12 months. The bill is part of the 2010 Coalition agreement and followed the expenses scandal.
Sir Edward’s amendment was to prevent the public taking action against members based on what they said or how they voted in parliament. He told a debate Westminster is not irrelevant as some say and power need not be transferred to “some sort of referendum-based democracy.”
“We are a parliamentary-based democracy; we discuss things among ourselves.”
“We are discussing the issues in a rational and popular way, but we know that nothing we say here, no vote that we can and no speech that we make can ever be held against us until that awesome day- general election day- arrives, when we are exactly the same as anybody else,” he said.
“We are not an elite. We have all been elected by the people, and we can be unelected by the people.”
Sir Edward added he hoped government would include his amendment in the Bill and “clearly preserve the freedoms and liberties of this House, which we value so highly.”
The government won the debate 340 to 166.