House of Commons Library

Recall Elections

Published Friday, September 12, 2014

Recall is a term used to describe a process whereby the electorate can petition to trigger a vote on the suitability of an existing elected representative to continue in office. There is no recall procedure in the UK. The Government introduced the Recall of MPs Bill 2014-15 in the House of Commons on 11 September 2014. This note explains the process of recall as commonly understood and briefly examines its usage in different countries.

Jump to full report >>

Recall is a term used to describe a process whereby the electorate can petition to trigger a vote between scheduled elections on the suitability of an existing elected representative to continue in office.

There is no recall procedure in the UK, although following the MPs’ expenses scandal the main political parties proposed introducing different forms of recall. The Government stated in the Coalition Agreement (11 May 2010) that it would do so, and in the Queen’s Speech on 4 June 2014, it announced that it would introduce legislation on the recall of Members of Parliament. The Recall of MPs Bill 2014-15 was introduced in the House of Commons on 11 September 2014. This note explains the process of recall and briefly examines its use in different countries.

The Bill differs slightly from the draft recall bill published on 13 December 2011. The draft bill was considered by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, see, Recall of MPs (HC 373 2012-13).

The Bill outlines two circumstances under which recall will be triggered: “first, that an MP is convicted in the UK of an offence and receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less; or secondly that the House of Commons orders the suspension of the MP for at least 21 sitting days—or at least 28 calendar days if the motion is not expressed in terms of sitting days”.

Ten per cent of the registered electorate in the relevant constituency will need to sign the petition for recall to go ahead, the seat to be vacated, and a by election to be held. The former MP may stand again in the by-election as long as the normal conditions for eligibility are met.

Note: an update (section 1) was added to this note following the announcement in the Queen’s Speech 2014 that the Government would introduce legislation on recall. Section 1 was added on 23 June 2014 and updated on 12 September 2014. The remainder of this note was last reviewed and updated on 18 July 2013.

Commons Briefing papers SN05089

Author: Richard Kelly

Topics: Elections, Members of Parliament

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.