British voters will get powers to recall MPs who have been found to be guilty of serious wrongdoing, such as accepting bribes, the country’s deputy prime minister promised on Monday amid a festering scandal of sleaze.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised “a new power of recall, where any MP guilty of serious misconduct could be forced to resign if enough of their constituents wanted them to.
“Done right, recall will reaffirm the principle that MPs serve the people, and the latter are in charge.”
Another measure was the expulsion of guilty members of House of Lords – just like their colleagues in the lower house. This would end centuries of tradition in which a seat in the upper house has meant a job for life. All anti-sleaze legislation would be introduced in the remaining two years of the government’s life.
Clegg also promised to bring in a register of lobbyists after a series of media sting operations trapped four MPs from both houses making sleazy promises to reporters posing as lobbyists.
Patrick Mercer, an MP belonging to the ruling coalition’s Conservative party, resigned over allegations he tabled parliamentary questions and launched an all-party group as part of a £24,000 contract for business interests in Fiji.
In a joint investigation by the BBC and the Daily Telegraph, Mercer, who sits in the House of Commons, was approached by representatives of a fake company that claimed to lobby for Fiji to be readmitted to the Commonwealth. Fiji was suspended in 2009 for human rights violations and lack of democracy.
Separately, three members of the House of Lords – one from the Ulster Unionist party and two from Labour, including former minister Jack Cunningham – were caught telling reporters posing as representatives of a South Korean solar energy company that they could set up an all-party parliamentary group to represent its interests.
“These revelations are unsettling, but not surprising,” admitted Clegg, whose Liberal Democrat party is the junior partner in the ruling coalition. “Our political system has long been crying out for head-to-toe reform.”