An e-petition to tackle corruption amongst MPs

hm_govIt wasn’t what I really wanted, but it’s a start – and it might help to identify some of the bad guys (and gals) in the House of Commons.

I am referring to my new e-petition, which calls on the government to legislate against MPs speaking or voting in debates on matters which could lead to them, companies connected with them or donors to their political party, gaining money. You can find it at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44971 – got it? Good, now sign it, please. Done that? Now read on. Thanks!

I do think this is a vital step to prevent corruption – if such a law had been in place before the current government came into power, Andrew Lansley would not have been able to speak in favour of his Health and Social Care Act before it was passed (he had received money from Care UK, as is well-documented on this blog and others).

But it is only a step. If this e-petition receives 10,000 signatures, then the government will post a response and I am dying to find out what it might be.

A Facebook friend of this blog sent me the response to an e-petition calling for the abolition of “work for your benefit/workfare” schemes in the UK, which seemed most keen to take issue with the use of the word “workfare”, even though it has been well-established in the British political scene for many years. It went on to describe the work-for-benefit schemes it does offer – in glowing terms. It makes me doubt whether the people responsible have taken the petition seriously.

Please support my petition. And please promote it by sharing the link with your friends – both online and in the real world, if possible. The Coalition Agreement of 2010 states that “the Government believes that we need to throw open the doors of public bodies, to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account” but we have seen no evidence of this happening. If anything, it seems the creatures who stalk the corridors of power are more corrupt than ever before.

Does anyone remember the scandal when it was revealed lobbyists could gain access to David Cameron in return for a £250,000 donation to the Conservative Party?

This kind of behaviour must be fought. First, I think we should try to banish it from the chamber of the House of Commons. If a debate does take place, it would be interesting to see who takes part and how many oppose the proposal – for obvious reasons.

If the e-petition gets that far, it might be possible to expand, considering the activities of lobbyists and whether former MPs should be allowed to take jobs with companies that benefit from government contracts.

For my next e-petition, I have been weighing up my chances of getting one published that would seek a debate on Gideon George Osborne’s misuse of taxpayers’ cash to fund his £1 million property moneyspinner – the paddock affair. I couldn’t get one published about the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards, who whitewashed the issue, and I doubt I could get one published seeking the dismissal of Osborne himself.

But a debate, using him as an example? That might be the way.

As ever, I am interested in your opinions.

16 thoughts on “An e-petition to tackle corruption amongst MPs

  1. Joan

    I have signed this petition but with slight reservations. I fully agree with point i) but wonder about the practicallity of part of point ii). I would agree with the personal donations part but wonder about donations to their party. You could end up that only the LibDems and Labour could debate a topic favouring a company making donations to the Tory party, and vice versa, obviously. The party that is banned from debating a topic would most likely be the one that wanted to raise it in the first place. I think I’m even confusing myself.

  2. Paul Jordan

    Thanks, I’ve signed and shared. Money out of politics! With the Scottish Independence referendum, the SNP wanted an increase in the limit of campaign spending. I was amongst those of the opinion that drastically reducing the limit is the way to go, that way you can’t be out spent and it’s all about grass roots activism rather than BIG money. Anyone still in doubt on the perils of letting BIG money into politics should take a look at the U.S.

  3. Arran MacInnes

    I personally believe that this proposal is a little too much. I believe that a person, no matter their interests, should be allowed to contribute their ideas to any debate they choose. To restrict this is to encroach on the freedom of speech of the affected people. If a person’s information that they bring to the debate is trully just to serve one’s financial interests then this should be down to the public and independent media to research and expose for the sake of the debate. We should not punish those who have invested in something that they believe in, by prohibiting their speaking on matters that involve it.

    It seems a little like a shortcut don’t you think? Corruption happens, so lets work (do we remember how to do this?) to expose it rather than suppressing rights and liberties of people. if this were to pass it could possibly cause an extreme negative effect. Stopping those who invest in projects for the future from speaking about those projects in matters that relate to them could possibly hinder the developement of national debate, stopping it from changing with the times. If we silence those who know, how will anyone else come to be privilaged to the same information. Though research? you’d be right in that but then that person is left to choose whether or not to support the idea financially or advocate it in the debate essencially thining the support of an idea by half. this means that a given idea would need twice the strength of following in order to support it in both areas, making it harder for any new idea to penitrate the norms of public debate.

    Limit the voting perhaps but lets not cull free speech folks. Do we really want to make it harder for new ideas and inovations to come out?

    1. Mike Sivier

      The only limitation this petition would impose is exactly the same one that is imposed on councillors up and down the UK every day. If a person has a financial interest in the item under discussion, it is unreasonable to expect them not to argue for and vote in favour of it, therefore they cannot give an unbiased opinion. That’s the reasoning with regard to councils; it counts for Parliament as well. Your argument is not persuasive, at least as far as I am concerned.

      1. Arran MacInnes

        it is definately unreasonable to expect someone to argue against what they are invested in. However It should be for everyone else to decide whether or not what they have to say is of any worth to the debate and not just furthering their own agenda. Just because something might be financially benificial to someone doesn’t mean that what they have to say is completely corrupt and not pure in its intent. Why is making a choice to talk on a given side of an argument any different from making the choice to invest financially. they both (should) require deep though and carful consideration. Therfor according to your rules, anyone who has even thought about a given subject cannot be properly unbias by virtue of their brain straying onto the subject. While i conceed that money is a motivational driver It is not as powerful as some people give it credence for. Not everyone believes there is only money in this world. Sometimes an idea is just a good idea and one is compelled to back it financially and as an advocate.

      2. Arran MacInnes

        Also if the limitation is as you say at a council level, then i would look to move to amend it in the future

      3. Mike Sivier

        You’re arguing in favour of corruption, Arran. If a person is likely to gain personal benefit from a legislation or policy, it’s better that they don’t take part in the discussion about it. Your argument does not stand up and I’m sorry that you can’t see it.

  4. danny

    All government are currupt. How do they get away with so many things and middle class people get screwed over for the smallest thing, they make us pay for the dept that they have caused, break the law and get away with it, spend our money on god knows what, spend millions to upgarde two toilets in parliment its a joke. i wish i could email each one of them directly, none of them would be able to reply with an honest answer, our country is only going to get worse with these people in power the only people they care about is themselves and how much they are getting paid.

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