Full Fact campaign paves the way for Parliament to change MP corrections

10 July 2023 | Team Full Fact

So far this year, only 7 out of the 37 MPs Full Fact has asked to correct their mistakes have gone on to do so. These include our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders Keir Starmer and Ed Davey.

As our elected representatives, MPs owe us the truth. However, too few MPs are currently willing — or able — to correct the official record when they make mistakes in Parliament. The system is broken.

That’s why, in April 2022, we launched a campaign calling for more honest politics, and asking all MPs to stand up for honesty, backing make vital changes to make the corrections system fit for purpose. 

As it stands, only Ministers can correct the official record (but they do not always do so). Even the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Cabinet are not able to correct the official record when they make a mistake. 

The House of Commons Procedure Committee has held an inquiry on this over the past year and in late June released their recommendations for how to fix it. The recommendations include:

  1. Extending the corrections process to all MPs
  2. Improving the visibility of how MP corrections appear on Hansard
  3. Creating a new page for people to find corrections on Parliament’s website

This is a big win for honesty in politics, and something Full Fact supporters made happen. 

Thanks to you, we were able to appear in front of the Committee, provide written evidence, and show them that almost 50,000 supporters like you want their MP to uphold the highest possible standards of honesty and accuracy which are crucial for democracy.

The recommendations address some of the most glaring shortcomings in the current system that we highlighted in our evidence to the Committee. As a minimum, they should be agreed without delay.

What happens next is vital. Soon MPs will debate the Procedure Committee’s recommendations. You can write to your MP and ask them to stand up for honesty and to support these recommendations.

The Government will also write its response to the recommendations. The Procedure Committee’s report highlighted Government support for them, stating that: “There is clearly an appetite to extend the ministerial corrections system to include backbenchers. HM Government made clear that it supported formal corrections mechanisms for backbenchers.”

Full Fact will continue to campaign for these changes and ask all MPs to adopt these recommendations as soon as possible.

But the recommendations made by the Committee are not enough. Of those MPs currently able to correct the official record, many have simply chosen not to. Without additional measures that hold MPs to account when they refuse to correct false or misleading claims, public trust in politics will be corroded. 

Full Fact will continue to call on MPs to go further than the Procedure Committee’s recommendations and introduce new measures to hold all MPs accountable when they fail to correct their mistakes.

Correcting mistakes is not an admission of failure, but a way for our elected representatives to lead by example, help build trust in public life and challenge those who promote cynicism about politics and our democracy.

Your MP can show they are serious about earning public trust by supporting the Committee's recommendations and asking the government to include sanctions for those who refuse to correct the record.

Make sure your voice is heard and your MP stands up for you in Parliament.

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Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.