Calls for a new law to stop politicians lying

By Dylan Davies   |   News editor   |
Wednesday 20th April 2022 12:04 pm
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Liz Saville Roberts speaking in the House of Commons. (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament )

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PLAID Cymru’s Parliamentary leader has called for a new law against lying in politics.

Liz Saville Roberts, who is MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to support her party’s proposal for a law against lying in politics during today’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

Plaid Cymru says a series of scandals from partygate to second jobs appear to have significantly eroded what remaining faith the public has in UK politics.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of the UK public has lost faith in politics and politicians over the last 12 months, polling from the think-tank Compassion in Politics today reveals.

The polling also reveals that the public would overwhelmingly (73 per cent) support the introduction of a new law - as proposed by Compassion in Politics and Plaid Cymru - to require that politicians tell the truth.

In 2007, when the lies used by Tony Blair to justify going to war in Iraq were surfacing, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Adam Price, now leader of Plaid Cymru, introduced the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill. It would have made lying a criminal offence for full-time elected politicians, allowing members of the public to call in the police if they believe an offence has been committed.

Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, said that the “archaic” rules stopping MPs from calling out Boris Johnson’s lies in Parliament meant such a law was more necessary than ever.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Liz Saville Roberts said: “Plaid Cymru have been calling for 15 years for a law to ban politicians from being wilfully misleading. New polling by Compassion in Politics shows that 73% of people support such a law.

“Will the Prime Minister support a Lying in Politics Bill?”

Despite having previously agreed with the “basic principle” of Plaid Cymru’s Bill on 14 April 2021, the Prime Minister refused to support a Lying in Politics Bill, saying that “it is well known that the rules of this House demand that we tell the truth in this House.”

Speaking after the session, Liz Saville Roberts added: “People are rightly furious about this Prime Minister’s conduct – and at the fact that the archaic rules of this place stop us from accurately describing it.

“The Westminster political system is utterly incapable to hold liars like Boris Johnson to account. A system based on honour cannot work when the Prime Minister has none.

“Boris Johnson’s answer showed just how out of touch he is with public opinion. Given that 73% of people support our proposals, it is now time for the Prime Minister to show some humility and deliver.”

The co-director of Compassion in Politics, Jennifer Nadel, added: “We need politicians who are open, honest, and transparent. Politicians who respect the public and are committed to serving them. If the current system is not producing that level of leadership, the system needs to change.

“Our proposal - to make it a requirement that politicians are honest with the public - would apply the same rules to Westminster that already exist for businesses, doctors, teachers, and many other workplaces. Why should there be one rule for us and another for politicians? It isn’t fair and, self-evidently, it isn’t working. Over 200,000 people have now signed our petition calling for such a law. Our politics has already sunk as low as it can go thanks to the repeated use of lies, mistruths, and misrepresentation - it’s time someone threw it a lifejacket.”

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