Lies in Parliament don’t concern the Government

This petition that is available here was formed by Ronald Tocknell on 14th April this year achieved the 10,000 signatures at least a couple of months ago and finally on Thursday the UK Government got around to responding. The number of signatures has now reached nearly 90,000 so we are only 10,000 away from 100,000 which is the level that would then enable MPs to be able to hold a debate on behalf of our nation. One suspects that the 100,000 will be reached by the time Parliament reopens on the 6th September or soon after.

Back on the 24th July there were 30,600 signatures at the beginning of that day, and then by the end of 29th July there were 61,500 signatures which was very significant. However the 30th July proved to be a very significant day when the signatures went up by almost 10,000 in one day. Since then in the last fortnight there have been nearly 20,000 more signatures and one could imagine that the Governments response will inspire at least another 10,000 people to sign. The signatures here in Sussex are significant in seven of the 16 constituencies. The least responded location is Crawley with just over 100 signatures. There are eight constituencies with 130-170 signatures and four with 180-230 signatures. However Brighton and Hove has managed as is often the case to be the three locations with the most responses. The two Labour constituencies have achieved 250-280 signatures and the Green Brighton Pavilion constituency is in the most significant section with over 370 signatures which represents 0.3% of the people in our area. The only other constituency that has risen higher than Brighton Pavilion is once again Bristol West with just over 400 signatures but that is only 0.28% of the people.

The text within the Petition is as follows

The Government should introduce legislation to make lying in the House of Commons a criminal offence. This would mean that all MPs, including Ministers, would face a serious penalty for knowingly making false statements in the House of Commons, as is the case in a court of law.

We believe false statements have been made in the House and, although regarded as a “serious offence” in principle, options to challenge this are extremely limited as accusing a member of lying is forbidden in the House.

Truth in the House of Commons is every bit as important as truth in a court of law and breaches should be treated in a similar way to perjury and carry similar penalties.

The response has been signed off by Jacob Rees-Mogg and it is as follows

The Government does not intend to introduce legislation of this nature. MPs must abide by the Code of Conduct and conduct in the Chamber is a matter for the Speaker.

It is an important principle of the UK Parliament that Members of Parliament are accountable to those who elect them. It is absolutely right that all MPs are fully accountable to their constituents for what they say and do and this is ultimately reflected at the ballot box.

Freedom of speech in Parliament is an essential part of our democracy. It is a right that enables Parliament to function freely and fully, ensuring that MPs are able to speak their minds in debates, and to represent their constituents’ views without fear or favour. Parliamentary privilege, which includes freedom of speech and the right of both Houses of Parliament to regulate their own affairs, grants certain legal immunities to Members of both Houses to allow them to perform their duties without outside interference.

Once elected, MPs are expected to abide by the seven principles of public life which form the basis of ethical standards required of holders of public office. These are set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life and are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. It is a requirement that any holder of public office must be truthful and must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

MPs are also subject to the House of Commons Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members. The code includes a general duty on MPs to “act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents”, alongside a requirement that MPs “act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them. They should always behave with probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources.” The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is an independent officer of the House of Commons and is responsible for investigating allegations that MPs have breached the rules in the Code of Conduct. Further details about the role of the Commissioner for Standards are available here on the Parliament website 

Conduct in the Chamber is beyond the remit of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. This is because the House has determined that how Members conduct themselves in the Chamber, including their adherence to the principles of public life, is a matter for the Speaker, and Parliament is responsible for its own procedures.

Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Justice Issues, Parliament and Democracy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lies in Parliament don’t concern the Government

  1. Pingback: The speed of signatures for high quality petitions | ianchisnall

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