Queen's Speech 2012: Zac Goldsmith Fears Recall Elections U-Turn

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 09/05/2012 15:30 Updated: 09/05/2012 22:12

The government has been accused quietly rowing back on political reform by omitting plans to introduce the power to recall MPs mid-term from the Queen's Speech.

Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith questioned why a Bill was not mentioned in the list of legislation announced on Wednesday morning.

"So where was the promised Recall Bill in the Queen's speech? How can Government expect to 'rebuild trust' if it so casually drops key promises?" he said.

Under plans announced by the Cabinet Office in December of last year, MPs found guilty of "serious wrongdoing" would risk being kicked out of office mid-term by voters.

The draft proposals would have see a by-election be triggered if 10% of voters in an MPs constituency signed a petition calling for them to be recalled.

A petition to remove an MP would be held if they were first censured by a vote in the House of Commons and could not be launched by voters themselves.

Under the plans a by-election would also automatically take place if an MP was convicted of a criminal offence and was sentenced to less than a year in prison.

Goldsmith is a strong advocate of recall elections, if not the precise mechanism proposed by the coalition, and he expressed concern the plans were being shelved.

"Same story," he Tweeted. "Government promised local referendums before election, then panicked and downgraded them to 'advisory'. Then deleted entire clause."

Goldsmith said that if this were true it would be a "great legacy" for the Liberal Democrats who were far more interested in pushing through reform of the House of Lords.

He added: "I don't blame the LDs for dropping Recall etc. But as 'reformers', they aren't putting up much of a fight."

However the Cabinet Office insisted that it was not backing down on the proposals and was simply waiting for the Commons political and constitutional reform committee to report back on the government's draft Bill in June before it brought forward legislation.

“There is no change to the planned timetable. The Government published the Recall of MPs Draft Bill on 13 December 2011," a Cabinet Office spokesman said.

"The political and constitutional reform select committee have now concluded taking evidence as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill and their report is expected in the summer.

"The Government will carefully consider the Committee’s comments once they are published and we look forward to seeing their report.”

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is escorted by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they proceed through the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, in London Wednesday May 9, 2012, during the State Opening of Parliament. From a gilded throne in the House of Lords the queen will read aloud the British Government's annual legislative package in traditionally opulent style to open Parliament.(AP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)
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