Imprisonment of Members of Parliament

There is a requirement for the House to be notified formally of proceedings against an MP in the following cases:

  • Imprisonment or remanding in custody of a Member
  • On passage of any sentence of imprisonment against a Member
  • Conviction of illegal or corrupt practice at a parliamentary election
  • Conviction of an offence under s.10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009[1]

Once the Speaker receives such a notification he is obliged to report it to the House. The Speaker normally makes an oral statement and lays a copy of the letter before the House; The letter is recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.

Recall of MPs Act 2015

A recall procedure for Members of Parliament was introduced in 2015. The recall procedure allows the electorate of a parliamentary constituency to trigger a by-election.

S.4(2) of the Recall of MPs Act 2015 requires the Speaker to be notified of the sentencing and imprisonment of a sitting Member of Parliament. The Speaker is also informed of any appeal against conviction and the result of that appeal as required by s.4(4) of the Recall of MPs Act 2015.

MPs can be recalled in the following circumstances:

  • If they are convicted in the UK of an offence and sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned or detained and all appeals have been exhausted (and the sentence does not lead to automatic disqualification from being an MP);
  • If they are suspended from the House, following report and recommended sanction from the Committee on Standards, for a specified period (at least 10 sitting days, or at least 14 days if sitting days are not specified).;
  • If they are convicted of an offence under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (making false or misleading Parliamentary allowances claims).

Once an MP has been convicted, imprisoned and exhausted the appeals process, the Speaker must give notice to the petitions officer in the MP’s constituency to open a recall petition. Background to the introduction of recall, details of the recall process and recall campaigns can be found in the Commons Library Briefing Paper: Recall elections.

Arrest of Members

The Speaker wrote to the Chair of the Procedure Committee in January 2015 to invite the Committee to review the practice of notifying the House where a Member has been arrested.

The Committee recommended retaining the requirement for police forces to notify the House authorities of the arrest of a Member on a criminal charge; but removing the obligation of the Speaker to notify the House by laying the notification on the table and its subsequent publication in the Votes and Proceedings. It proposed instead that once notified, the Clerk of the House would consult the arrested Member as to whether they wished the notification to be made to the House.

Details of the Procedure Committee’s conclusions and recommendations are contained in the Committee’s report, Notification of the arrest of Members, which was agreed by the House on 10 February 2016

Parliament: facts and figures

This series of publications contains data on various subjects relating to Parliament and Government. Topics include legislation, MPs, select committees, debates, divisions and parliamentary procedure.


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[1]     Notification of the arrest of Members, [HC 649 2015-16] para 8, 15 Dec 2015

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