Parliamentary Duty of Care

The proposal below is not currently part of our manifesto and will need explicit approval from the membership to become party policy.

Currently, MPs’ are accountable to their electorates only through the ballot box and, although they collectively exercise great power and Acts of Parliament can have dire consequences, their responsibilities are undefined and they are largely immune from prosecution if they wilfully or negligently misuse their power.

The introduction of an effective recall mechanism will improve their accountability but only retrospectively; their constituents will be able to replace them but that will not, in itself, reverse the consequences of their actions nor will it punish them where they’ve acted culpably.

We believe that Members of Parliament owe a duty of care to the public at large and that something more than the risk of losing their seat is necessary to ensure they exercise that duty with the diligence and integrity that their position warrants. We consider that immunity from prosecution for harm arising from negligent legislation is incompatible with the principle that nobody is above the law, which we regard as a cornerstone of the rule of law.

We therefore aim to:

  1. formally acknowledge that members of parliament have a common law duty of care, to their constituents, to the country at large and to future generations; and
  2. formally establish that their constituents (but not the government) would be able to initiate legal action against an MP, either by including a motion to do so in a recall ballot or, in some circumstances, through a separate motion against a former MP.

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