Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 16:35 UK

Cancel MPs' holidays, urges Clegg

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg says voters should be able to sack MPs if they have done wrong

MPs should be blocked from taking their summer holidays until they agree sweeping changes at Westminster, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has urged.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Clegg called for radical reform of members' expenses, party funding and the electoral system within 100 days.

His intervention comes in the wake of the prolonged row over MPs' allowances.

Mr Clegg said politicians should "bar the gates" at Westminster "until the crisis has been sorted out".

Later, in an interview with the BBC, Mr Clegg said the people wanted MPs to "clean up politics from top to toe".

This came after two further MPs - Conservative Julie Kirkbride and Labour's Margaret Moran - revealed they would be standing down at the next election after criticism of their expenses claims.

We should stay in Westminster until we have cleaned up this whole mess for good
Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader

"We should stay in Westminster until we have cleaned up this whole mess for good," he said.

As part of this, the public should "have their say now" on MPs found to have abused the expenses system, Mr Clegg said.

Voters should be given the power to "recall" their MP in certain circumstances and to decide whether they should step down immediately rather than see them stay until the next election.

He said the two main parties were acting as "judge and jury" over the conduct of their MPs without involving the public.

Greater powers

Mr Clegg's proposals follow weeks of revelations in the Daily Telegraph, which has obtained details of all MPs expenses over a four-year period.

In Mr Clegg's article, he argued that the moment for change would be lost if MPs left for the summer recess without having pushed through fundamental reforms.

He set out his plan to achieve the "total reinvention of British politics" through agreements on party funding and constitutional change.


Mr Clegg said that in the first fortnight, MPs would agree to accept whatever reforms to expenses were brought forward by the standards watchdog Sir Christopher Kelly, draw up legislation allowing for the recall of errant members and impose a £50,000 cap on individual donations to parties.

By week three a bill would be passed to introduced four-year fixed term parliaments from 2010.

Before the end of the next week, the the Speaker would introduce a series of changes to Commons procedure, such as giving MPs greater powers of scrutiny and subjecting ministers to confirmation hearings.

In weeks four and five the Commons would pass legislation allowing a referendum on electoral reform, and by weeks six and seven parliament would vote to replace the House of Lords with an elected upper chamber.

Mr Clegg also criticised Conservative leader David Cameron's remarks that he was giving "serious consideration" to fixed term parliaments.

In a speech, Mr Cameron said a Tory government would restore "real people power" through a "radical" redistribution of power from Westminster.

But the Lib Dem leader said Mr Cameron, who ruled out proportional representation, had merely offered "verbal cover for maintaining the status quo".

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