Jonathan: We must make it easier to sack rogue MPs.
Updated 2:15pm Monday 7th July 2014 in News
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards will find himself in a strange position this week as he sets about making it easier for his constituents to kick him out of Parliament.
The much-trumpeted Recall Bill to de-select rogue MPs was promised in 2010 party manifestos following public outrage at the MPs expenses scandal which made headline news the previous year.
A Bill was finally introduced in last month’s Queens Speech which promised a way in which voters could trigger a process to boot out their MP if they had done wrong.
However, Mr Edwards believes the proposed legislation is too weak and does not give enough power to voters.
The Capel Hendre-born MP will this week take up a seat on a new Commons Committee which will look establish a rival Bill, which he says will be more meaningful and will put total power in the hands of voters.
Mr Edwards is the only MP from Wales to be a member of the committee.
Although elected after the expenses scandal – which exposed numerous MPs for submitting outrageous claims such as cleaning costs for a private moat not to mention pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on bogus and sometimes illegal property claims, Mr Edwards says he does not believe that the Westminster elite have changed their ways.
He said a genuine Recall Bill could go some way to restoring trust in politics.
"I wasn’t in Parliament when the MPs expenses scandal was exposed, but even though I’ve been an elected member for four years I don’t think the Westminster elite have really learned anything from the period,” said Mr Edwards, adding that politicians were still failing to understand why the publics’ trust in them was “at the low level it is”.
“The Recall Bill was meant to be the start of a new democracy – one in which Members of Parliament recognise they are there to serve their constituents, not line their own pockets,” he said.
“But the proposals coming from the UK Government are too weak and don’t scratch the surface of what is needed to keep MPs in check.
“This week I’ve joined a small committee of like-minded MPs who believe more needs to be done to put powers back into the hands of voters. If MPs break the rules, then their constituents should be able to kick them out – not be forced to wait up to five years for the next election.
“Being elected as a Member of Parliament and representing my home communities is a huge honour.
“I believe a genuine recall process can greatly empower voters and go some way to restoring trust in politics.
“That’s why I’ll be one of those proposing an alternative Parliamentary Bill to put power in the hands of the electorate.
“The proposal from the UK Government keeps power in the hands of MPs – that isn’t good enough.”