Mr Williams makes the very good point that, while not all directorships need to be declared (only those that could influence voting decisions or the way MPs and Lords speak in Parliament), there is no way of checking other than a huge project like his book.
It is exactly the same situation as with the spending declarations of people standing for Parliament; there is no easy way to confirm the amounts spent other than a large amount of detective work, as has been discovered by those investigating allegations of fraud by Conservative candidates in the 2015 election.
The upshot is that we now know there is huge potential for corruption in our political system – that has gone unchecked for far too long.
The question is, what do we do about it?
Nearly 2,800 active company directorships are held by politicians in Westminster, according to a book published on Thursday that sheds light on the financial interests of members of the houses of parliament.
“Parliament Ltd: A journey to the dark heart of British politics”, authored by journalist Martin Williams, found that MPs and lords are directors in 2,465 companies with combined revenues of £220 billion and a combined workforce of 1.2 million people.
A rough-cut analysis by Williams suggests that around 40% of these directorships are not fully declared on parliament’s official Register of Members’ Financial Interests. Another 6% were only partially declared, and another 3% were declared with major errors, such as incorrect spelling of company names.
There are currently around 1,450 members of the houses of parliament, with 650 MPs and around 800 lords.
There is no suggestion in the book that any of the MPs identified have broken any rules. However, the data, surfaced with the help of London tech startup DueDil, includes several potentially controversial directorships.
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