On Tuesday in the House of Commons several significant things happened, some of which have already been covered in yesterdays blog which focused on the very poor approach taken by the Prime Minister toward settings such as Sussex seafront locations. However there are always a number of matters that occur during the day in Parliament and another one was a debate on the amendments to the Parliamentary Code of Conduct that led to Chris Bryant’s amendment being passed and the Government being defeated. The amendment relates to the way in which bullying is dealt with in Parliament, where it has been caused by an MP. It was a very close call with 239 MPs voting to support his amendment and 235 voting to oppose it. There were a total of 45 Conservatives who opposed the Government who included Theresa May, Penny Mordaunt, Andrea Leadsom, Bernard Jenkin and Maria Miller. A bit closer to Sussex there were several MPs who voted to support the amendment who included Peter Kyle and Russell Moyle-Lloyd, but also Tim Loughton and Huw Merriman. Then there were several people who didn’t vote who include Peter Bottomley, Nusrat Ghani, Nick Gibb, Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Quin. This meant that the Sussex votes were much more even than normal and it was very encouraging that Tim and Huw did vote for the amendment. However during the debate before the votes, one of the contributors was Edward Leigh who made the following statement:
We are elected by the people. We are responsible to the people, and the people must have the final say on whether we come here in the first place, when we leave and how we leave. That is very important.
It is of course a challenge to get such an approach adopted as within the Government who along with Edward Leigh opposed the amendment, the views are far from supportive of his own words. Jacob Rees-Mogg stated:
My right hon. Friend makes a crucial point: we are elected by the people, and we are answerable to them. That is why I support the principle that only the House of Commons holds the authority to make the decision to suspend or expel.
Which is clearly very different to what Edward Leigh seems to be saying. So for the rest of us, it seems very sensible that when we are unhappy with the way our MPs have behaved or failed to represent our constituencies, that we should be able to recall them and set out a by-election to test their support. The Recall Act 2015 was sadly far to inadequate and would only operate if an MP had been found guilty of a legal act in a Court, so perhaps this year we should ask for a more conventional Recall Act as is available in a number of other locations. This would then presumably satisfy Leigh, even if it would irritate Rees-Mogg! A classic case to be considered first of all is the constituency of Newark who elected Robert Jenrick. It has now been declared that he used his role to assist a major funder for his party, who the decisions he has made has saved the many many millions of pounds.