Government responds to the e-petition against corruption


What interesting timing.

The government has a duty to make some kind of response if an e-petition on its website passes 10,000 signatures. My own e-petition – ‘Ban MPs from voting on matters in which they have a financial interest’ – passed that point several weeks ago, but it is only now – right before Christmas, when people have many other matters on their minds – that it has been graced with a response.

And what a weak response it is!

The petition 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.

The response runs as follows: “The participation of Members of Parliament in debates and votes are a matter for the rules of each House rather than for legislation.” How interesting. Every other level of government has legislation covering this – look at the Local Government Act 1972. What makes Parliament so special?

“The rules are based upon the principle of transparency: the registration and the declaration of any financial interests. In the House of Commons, the Code of Conduct requires Members to fulfil the requirements of the House relating to the registration of interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and to be open in drawing attention to any financial interest in proceedings of the House. The application of these rules are explained in The Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members.” This raises the question: Why were these rules not applied so that, for example, Andrew Lansley could not speak on his own Health and Social Care Bill because he had received £21,000 of support from the private health company Care UK? Clearly he was in breach of the rules, and it is just as clear that no action was taken. This demonstrates the need for robust enforcement – with a criminal penalty for transgressors.

Similar rules apply in the House of Lords. These make clear that it is for Peers themselves to declare a financial interest if a reasonable person might think that their actions could be influenced by a relevant interest.

“In both Houses the respective Registers of Interests are publically available and updated regularly.” How often are they checked for accuracy?

Now we come to the meat: It would not be practicable to prevent Members speaking or voting in debates on legislation which could financially benefit any commercial operation in which they have a financial interest or which has made donations to themselves of their party. A significant number of legislative provisions in any year may have beneficial financial implications for all or most commercial operations. The requirement proposed would impose a duty on all Members to ascertain whether a general legislative provision might be of financial benefit to particular operations in which they had an interest. There are questions as to how such a complex requirement could be policed effectively and what sanctions would apply.”

This is bunkum. There is a huge difference between legislation that is designed to help all businesses and that which is designed to improve the profitability of a particular sector – such as the healthcare sector inhabited by Care UK, in the case of Mr Lansley that I have already mentioned.

Is a particular commercial sector, or an individual company, likely to benefit from legislation? If so, have any MPs taken money from that company, or one within that sector? Have such firms contributed to the funds of the party bringing that legislation forward? If the second condition is met, then that Member should not be allowed to speak; if the third condition is met, then this is corrupt legislation and should not be allowed before Parliament. It really is that simple. How many MPs or Peers have an interest in fracking?

In fact, considering their enormous salaries, why are MPs allowed to have any other financial interests at all?

“The rules of the House of Commons already prohibit paid advocacy, so Members cannot advocate measures which are for the exclusive benefit of a body from which they receive a financial benefit.” Then why was Lansley allowed to bring forward a bill that promised to benefit Care UK?

“In other cases, where legislation or debate affects a body from which a Member receives a financial benefit, that interest must be properly registered and declared.” How often is that checked?

“In relation to political donations and election expenditure, the Government is committed to further improving transparency and accountability, so as to prevent a situation where opaque and unaccountable groups spend large sums of money attempting to influence the political system. Measures to achieve this objective are included in the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill which is currently before the Parliament.” This is a Bill that has been pilloried as an example of the poorest legislation ever put before a British legislative body – it is not a good example to use in defence of a corrupt system.

That is the government’s point of view – for all that it is worth. I think we owe it to the people of the UK to respond – so let us lay this open to anybody who has an opinion.

Do you know of an instance in which the rules – as laid out in the government response published here – have been broken? Please get in touch and tell us what you know – making sure you provide as much evidence as possible. This site is not in the business of libelling honest politicians – we only like to expose those who are crooked.

Please get in touch.

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  1. […] What interesting timing. The government has a duty to make some kind of response if an e-petition on its website passes 10,000 signatures. My own e-petition – 'Ban MPs from voting on matters in whi…  […]

  2. gingerblokeblog December 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on gingerblokeblog and commented:
    No body else is allowed to vote upon something that will offer them financial gain, so why Members of Parliament be able to?

  3. Logomancer December 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    IMO it’s precisely parliament’s job to work out how to police systems and what sanctions to apply. An example is policing the welfare system and applying sanctions to claimants (which they do with gusto), and there are many more benefit claimants then there are MPs. Keep up the pressure, we shouldn’t accept this fobbing off. It’s an example of the responders looking after their own – exactly what the petition was about in the first place!

  4. Jeffrey Davies December 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    bandits and crooks not many honest onesthere im afraid jeff3

  5. Editor December 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on kickingthecat.

  6. leonc1963 December 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Diary of an SAH Stroke Survivor.

  7. bob archer December 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Lying thieving corrupt b*****ds the lot of them.

  8. Florence December 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    This response makes it clear that policing conflict of interest is one of those things this gang find “too difficult”. Just like the cumulative impact assessments of their legislation being too difficult, which have actually destroyed people lives. There is no room for “too difficult” at the top tier of government. It was decided years ago that the people of the UK did not trust MPs to be fair in their own pay awards, or to not abuse the expenses system.

    Why should we be expected to trust them on this issue? This type of corruption is the most insidious, most damaging to democracy, and leads to honest politicians being tarred with the same brush of greed and corruption. They really cannot be allowed to keep the status quo.

  9. watermelonbloke December 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    I contend that the fuss about MPs pay is a helpful smokescreen, distracting from the far more serious issues of systemic corruption via lobbying, conflict of interest and policy for sale.

    • Eric Jarvis December 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Agree 100%. At least half the Cabinet have extensive financial ties to the property imdustry, including Grant Shapps getting 6 figure donations from property companies when he was housing minister, yet they are allowed to pass legislation that restricts the provision of and access to social housing and measures to inflate the housing market. That’s just one example of many. Almost all government measures of the last few years can be traced back to a vested interest that has either donated directly to MPs or has funded political parties.

  10. johncresswellplant December 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on johncresswellplant.

  11. jim December 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    With the greatest of respect, no one is listening.

    • Mike Sivier December 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      Maybe not. I did say on Facebook that a lacklustre response sends the message that the British people don’t mind having corruption in their government.
      Perhaps that’s the case. How do YOU feel about it?

      • Tabitha Sims December 14, 2013 at 12:33 am - Reply

        Strongly. Im heartened you do too, and that you post. A lot more people out here seem to be more than well aware that the system is corrupt. We are reaching a tipping point. Look at ids having machine gunned armed guards. The games afoot now.

      • jim December 14, 2013 at 9:51 am - Reply

        Maybe my response was a bit brief, probably through frustration. What i mean is i receive lots of posts on Facebook/Twitter etc pointing out this Governments hardline approach which particularly is aimed at the poor, apart from the corruption. But these posts are ping ponged to people with the same views, Jo Bloggs doesn’t seem to care, Xfactor and the likes seem to rule the day. So what conclusion is there? Either people are quite happy with things or ignorant of the situation, even worse, they don’t care?

    • Steve Cheney December 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      I’d say, Jim, that there has never been a time when the majority of people were politically engaged. I don’t think democracy has ever worked that way. And no one expects the average person to be enthused by a political cause.

      We know that a lot of people are tired, scared, beaten down by work, or in that peculiarly British way, just grateful for what they have, even when what they have is being stripped away before their eyes.

      Britain has been at its best when people who have the time and the will and the resources have spoken out on behalf of those people and taken ingrained injustice to task, rather than waiting for people to have the option to vote for their own interests.

      • jimj December 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm - Reply

        Let’s hope so Steve.

  12. Anne Grant December 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Does anyone know an honest politician or m.p? This is a genuine question

    • Eric Jarvis December 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Yes. There are a few. They are almost invariably seen as mavericks and kept well clear of the front benches.

    • Mhara Costello December 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      Grahame Morris; (Easington South). One of the best.

  13. Thomas M December 14, 2013 at 1:13 am - Reply

    Dennis Skinner is honest as far as I know. But most MPs seem to just be in it for the money.

  14. beastrabban December 14, 2013 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here critiques the government’s response to his e-petition, which demanded that MPs with a vested interest in a particular industry or field should be banned from voting on it. Mike here notes that their reply came just before Christmas, when most people are busy preparing for the holiday festival. This is definitely not coincidental. Governments of all colours tend to put matters that are particularly controversial at times when the public is likely to be distracted with something else. New Labour did it, and the Coalition are doing it now. As for the government’s reply to this particular request, it essentially takes the form of two excuses: that’s it’s basically too difficult to police, and that it’s already covered by their Transparency and Lobbying Bill. Mike here thoroughly refutes both of these assertions, and notes that the last was attacked as one of the worst pieces of legislation ever put before parliament.

  15. Suzy December 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply
    Highlights how many Members of Parliament, of both houses, have their fingers in the NHS till.

  16. seachranaidhe1 December 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

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