28 October 2021
Bridgen asks if Keith Vaz is re-elected in a by-election if he will still serve the outstanding six-month ban

Andrew Bridgen asks the Leader of the House of Commons that, if there is a by-election in Leicester East and Keith Vaz stands and is re-elected, if Mr Vaz would be required to serve his outstanding six-month ban which he avoided by standing down in 2019. 

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)

Following the recent conviction of the hon. Member for Leicester East (Claudia Webbe) and the strong possibility of a by-election in the seat, the rumours are swirling in the fair county of Leicestershire that the previous incumbent may seek a return to this place. Given that he received a six-month ban from the House of Commons in 2019 following the cocaine and rent boys scandal, which he avoided by standing down, will the Leader of the House give a statement to the House where, hopefully, he will confirm that if Mr Vaz were to return to this place, he would have to serve his punishment outstanding in full?

Mr Rees-Mogg (The Leader of the House of Commons)

I will confirm the precise opposite. The House agreed to a six-month suspension for Mr Vaz on 31 October 2019, but Parliament was then dissolved on 6 November for a general election. A suspension cannot carry across into a new Parliament, so that ended Mr Vaz’s suspension. The recall petition process was also terminated by the election, as provided for under section 13 of the Recall of MPs Act 2015. But this is right, because we are here by virtue of our electorate, and the electorate is free to send here whomsoever they choose. I know my hon. Friend will not be happy with that answer, but I remind him about John Wilkes and the Middlesex election. It has not always been the case that this House has acted wisely in whom it has sought to expel, but the electors have had a right to send that person back. Although this may be a difficult case and although this may be disagreeable to my hon. Friend, these constitutional principles are fundamentally important and should not be changed for individual cases.