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Recall of MPs in the UK : 'if I were you I wouldn't start from here'

Judge, David (2013) Recall of MPs in the UK : 'if I were you I wouldn't start from here'. Parliamentary Affairs, 66 (4). pp. 732-751. ISSN 0031-2290

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The publication of a White Paper, Recall of MPs, and a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, by the UK Government in December 2011 was greeted with almost universal antipathy. In bringing forward the draft Bill Cabinet Office ministers declared their intention to ‘trigger a debate on what would be the best model for a recall mechanism’ and they expressed a willingness ‘to consider alternative models’ or even to contemplate ‘adopting a completely different approach’. Yet, they made it clear any such proposals ‘must work within our unique constitutional framework’ and be ‘suitable for our system of representative democracy’. The objective of this article, therefore, is to do precisely what Cabinet Office ministers asked: to examine comparative experience and to apply lessons from that experience to the UK's ‘unique constitutional framework’. Three questions guide the analysis: first, what is the problem to be addressed in introducing recall?; secondly, what does comparative experience reveal about the operation of recall? and thirdly how unique is the UK's constitutional framework?