In Parliament, Natalie Elphicke MP has spoken on democratic accountability and right to free speech. She told the House that she had consulted constituents before deciding to speak up on this topic after they raised concerns about the direction being taken in the House of Commons.
During the debate Natalie told the House of this, saying:
“That reminded me that whether or not it is my wish to speak today, it is certainly my duty to stand here and say that what is happening is wrong and unconstitutional.”
Natalie called for a reform of the Privileges Committee and the Standards Committee, to make them more accountable and their reports open to political debate:
“There is a concern that what is happening with the current Privileges and Standards Committees is not just overriding the right of the electorate to choose their representatives, but, chillingly, limiting what that Member can say.“
Natalie spoke about a famous example of censure for partisan political reasons. The Middlesex by-election fiasco that saw the repeated expulsion of John Wilkes, against the will of the people, who kept voting him in.
Natalie reminded the House what the “Encyclopaedia Britannica” has to say on the subject: “Wilkes was finally expelled on inconclusive precedents and by a method undoubtedly fraught with danger to the constitution since it set aside in the name of parliamentary privilege the right of the elector to choose his representative”.
Natalie eloquently reminded the House open political debate is a fundamental British value and fundamental to our way of life and democracy saying:
“To be a politician, at its very core, is to debate, to explain, to agree or to disagree. That is what we are elected to do. We are not elected to sit in some sort of pretend court of law. As has been found throughout history, when the Commons goes down the route of censuring or expelling Members for partisan political purposes, it invariably damages Parliament itself.“
Closing the speech, Natalie told the house:
“What happens in this place ripples out, so that other people in other walks of life— our constituents—may not get a fair hearing, due process or fair treatment, or may be gagged from speaking up for themselves in the face of grave injustices in their lives and workplaces. I was elected here to defend those constituents and to defend our British values, and that is how I will exercise my political and democratic vote today, to vote against this report.”
You can read the full speech in Hansard here.