This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government
Petition Make it illegal for any MP to lie in parliament or knowingly deceive the public.
Repeal Parliamentary Privilege and reform Contempt of Parliament to make it illegal for MPs to lie or knowingly deceive the public in the execution of their duties. This must include campaigning and all statements made in Parliament or the media. Breach of this condition must trigger a by-election.
It should be a legal offence in the UK, as it is in some other countries and nations, to lie, wilfully mislead or knowingly deceive the public in execution of ones duties or whilst occupying a public office. This should include, but not be limited to; campaigning, liasing with the media or in any public forum. This should be covered by 'Misconduct in Public Office'. A breach of such conditions should result in dismissal from office, or at the very least a by-election for the seat in question.
This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months
This response was given on 25 April 2018
An important principle of the UK Parliament is that MPs are accountable to those who elect them. Responsibility for privilege is a matter for the House of Commons itself, rather than the Government.
Read the response in full
It is an important principle of the UK Parliament that Members of Parliament are accountable to those who elect them. It is therefore absolutely right that all Members of Parliament are fully accountable to their constituents for what they say and do and this is ultimately reflected at the ballot box.
There are strong rules that govern candidates prior to their election to Parliament. The Electoral Commission sets out the rules for candidates during General Election campaigns, such as the type of publicity material that candidates are able to use and the rules around making false statements. You can find further information on specific electoral offences at the following website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/149729/List-of-electoral-offences.pdf
Once elected to Parliament, and as set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, all MPs must abide by the seven principles of public life which form the basis of ethical standards expected of holders of public office as set out in their respective Codes of Conduct. The seven principles of public life 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.
Upon election, MPs are also subject to the House’s Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of Members. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards oversees the application of the Code and further details are available on the Parliament website at https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-financial-interests/parliamentary-commissioner-for-standards/
Ultimately, it is right that MPs are accountable to the electorate and should uphold the highest of standards. As such, the Recall of MPs Act 2015 was introduced to allow constituents to sign a petition for the recall of their MP if they are convicted of an offence, or are suspended from the House for at least 21 sitting days (or 28 calendar days if the suspension does not specify sitting days). A recall petition would be successful if signed by at least 10% of the registered voters in a constituency. The recall mechanism adds to the House of Commons’ own suite of disciplinary measures and gives constituents a say over their MP’s conduct between General Elections.
On the specific question of reforming the rules relating to Parliamentary privilege, the Government has always been clear that Parliamentary privilege is a matter for Parliament and that the responsibility for making any changes or reflecting on its effectiveness lies with Parliament and not the Government.
Parliamentary privilege refers to the range of freedoms and protections each House of Parliament needs to function effectively. In brief, it comprises the right of each House to control its own proceedings and precincts, and the right of those participating in parliamentary proceedings, whether or not they are Members, to speak freely without fear of legal liability or other reprisal.
Following the inquiry by the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in 2013, the Government agreed with the Committee that there is no strong case for a comprehensive codification of Parliamentary privilege. However, as stated in the original Government response, this does not mean that steps cannot be taken both by Parliament and by Government to clarify the application of privilege where appropriate. You can find the full Government response here: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/joint-committees/Parliamentary-Privilege/Cm%208771%20Gov%20response%20to%20JC%20on%20PP%20Dec%202013.pdf