THE Recall of MPs Act that could lead to a parliamentarian losing their seat and sparking a new by-election will not become operational for months, The Herald has learned.

The Lib-Con Coalition's flagship legislation facilitates the triggering of a recall petition if an MP is sentenced to either a prison term or is suspended from the House of Commons for at least 10 sitting days. If at least 10 per cent of local voters sign the petition, the seat is declared vacant and a by-election takes place.

Although the Act was put on the Statute Book in March, it can only be made operational by the UK Government laying before Parliament a so-called statutory instrument, confirming the details of the application of the legislation.

But a senior Government source with knowledge of the process made clear it is likely to be months before the Act becomes operational. The insider told The Herald: "The policy work on the specifics of the petitions is now underway but it's more likely to be post the summer recess rather than before."

The summer recess begins on July 21 with Westminster returning for just two weeks at the beginning of September; it then does not return until mid October.

In theory, the first person who could become the subject of a recall is Alistair Carmichael, the former Scottish Secretary, who is at the centre of the row over the leaked Sturgeon/Bermann memo.

However, this would presume Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary standards commissioner, in her inquiry found the MP for Orkney and Shetland did break the MPs' code of conduct and that, as a consequence of that, the Commons Standards Committee suspended Mr Carmichael to at least 10 sitting days after the Recall of MPs Act became operational.

Ms Hudson is focusing her investigation on three parts of the code in relation to:

*MPs basing their conduct on "the public interest" as opposed to the private interest;

*only using information received in the course of their parliamentary duties in connection with those duties

*and never behaving in a way that undermines the integrity of the Commons and MPs generally.

Despite the former Scottish Secretary at the time of the leak not being an MP, Ms Hudson has concluded that it is within her remit to launch an inquiry.

The commissioner has three options: to find no case to answer; to find a minor breach of the code or to find a serious breach. It is only on the latter that a memo is sent to the Standards Committee for action, which could include suspension.

The leaked memo was an account of a private conversation between the First Minister and Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador, in which it was wrongly claimed that Ms Sturgeon had said she wanted David Cameron to remain Prime Minister and Ed Miliband was not up to the job - in direct contradiction to her public utterances.

The memo was leaked to the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph with Mr Carmichael's approval. The FM insisted the claims within it were "100 per cent untrue". The French Embassy also said it was inaccurate.

After the election, a Whitehall inquiry concluded a Scotland Office civil servant had written the memo, believing it to be an accurate account of the conversation but later accepting part could have been "lost in translation".