What is a recall petition and could an MP really lose his seat?
Ian Paisley will face a by-election if 10% of his constituents sign the petition under new laws following the MPs expenses scandal.
Democrat Unionist Ian Paisley could be the first MP to lose his seat under legislation introduced by the former coalition government in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
– How can does the process work?
The Recall of MPs Act 2015 created a mechanism for the first time enabling constituents to force a by-election in cases of serious misconduct. Under the legislation, an MP loses their seat if 10% of the electorate in the constituency sign a petition of recall.
– When is a recall petition held?
A petition is automatically opened if an MP is convicted of an offence and sentenced to prison, suspended from the House of Commons for 10 sitting days, or convicted of making a false expenses claim.
– How can people sign the petition?
The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland has opened three centres in Mr Paisley’s North Antrim constituency where registered voters aged 18 or over can sign.
The signing places – in Ballymoney, Ballymena and Ballycastle – are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday until the petition closes in six weeks’ time on September 19. There will be extended openings to 9pm on September 6 and 13. They will shut on Bank Holiday Monday, August 27.
– Are there measures to prevent voter fraud?
Since 2002, voters in Northern Ireland – unlike the rest of the UK – have been required to produce an approved form of identification such a driving licence, a UK or Irish passport or an electoral identity card.
– If a petition is carried, can the recalled MP stand in the ensuing by-election?
Yes. Mr Paisley has said that is what he will do if that is the result.
– Is campaigning permitted?
Yes. Individuals and organisations can campaign for or against the recall petition. Spending during the petition period is limited to £500 for non-registered campaigners and £10,000 for registered campaigners, including political parties.