Northern Ireland news

House of Commons suspension on Ian Paisley 'would not automatically carry over' if he were re-elected MP

Ian Paisley has been the MP for north Antrim since 2010. Picture by Pacemaker

A HOUSE of Commons ban imposed on suspended DUP politician Ian Paisley "would not automatically carry over" if he were to be re-elected as MP in an early by-election.

However, it is understood it could be up to his fellow MPs to decide whether to "re-impose any unserved term".

It comes following suggestions that Mr Paisley could consider quitting as north Antrim MP in a bid to automatically trigger an earlier by-election.

It has been suggested the move would halt the ongoing petition of recall, in which Mr Paisley's electorate can force a by-election for the seat if 10 per cent of them sign it.

An earlier by-election, pushed forward by a possible two weeks and in which Mr Paisley would be expected to win, could cut the number of days he is absent from the House of Commons.

It in turn could mean he may not miss any key Brexit votes.

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In July, MPs voted to suspend Mr Paisley for 30 sitting days over his failure to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government - triggering the recall procedure.

He apologised in the Commons, but faces a by-election if 10 per cent or 7,543 of his constituents sign the petition. The recall petition is the first in UK parliamentary history.

It has been reported that Mr Paisley, who has been the MP for north Antrim since 2010, could stand down on September 4, the day the House of Commons returns from its summer recess.

His resignation would automatically end the petition of recall and could allow for a by-election as early as October 4, which based on last year's general election when he won 59 per cent of the vote in north Antrim, it is expected he would be re-elected.

It is thought he would therefore miss less of the key Brexit votes in the Commons.

However, it is not clear if the 30-day ban would still be imposed on the DUP stalwart if he was re-elected following a by-election or if it would be wiped out.

While a spokesman for the House of Commons last night said the suspension "would not automatically carry over the by-election process", he said "it would then be up to the House, presumably following a recommendation from the Standards Committee, to decide whether to re-impose any unserved term/suspension" if Mr Paisley was re-elected.

"The Standards Committee would give careful consideration to these matters in any further report it makes to the House," he added.


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