A Parliamentary Covenant

imagesI5LXQ3Q9Despite the best estimates of the Auctioneers at Christies, the red despatch box which was made up for Margaret Thatcher at tax payer expense when she became a Minister, was sold yesterday by her estate for £240,000, well in excess of the figure originally expected. The amount does not change the principle of the action and the way in which this sort of thing is dealt with, but it does bring sharply into focus the need for a resolution. I wrote about that yesterday. In the same news period a small Parliamentary Committee called the Commons Procedure Committee is to change the rules which currently allow publication of the news of the arrest of any MP so that although the Parliamentary Authorities will be notified of any arrest, they will not make a public announcement any longer. This of course raises all sorts of questions about the sense of accountability of our representatives to us who elect them to a position of power and influence. Being arrested is something that I have never experienced, but I know full well that the Police use powers of arrest for many reasons, not all of which relate to the intention to carry through to the Courts any legal actions. I have seen people arrested for their own safety to remove them from a place of harm for example. However being the representative of a community means that the community is the de-facto employer of the MP. Many employers have rules which call upon the worker to inform the employer of any arrest or impending prosecution for the impact this could have on the business, both practically and reputationally. Apparently the CPC wants to remove that sense of accountability from us as employers of our MPs. It seems that our Parliamentarians are asking a great deal of us, without any real sense of who gets to set these rules. The usual response that is trotted out is that if we don’t approve of the way our MPs behave or the rules they set, we must vote them out at the next election. In my own case the MP for Brighton Pavilion is one of those who has been arrested in recent months, but her arrest from the fracking dispute in Balcombe was done in such a public manners that the Parliamentary rules would not have kept her arrest confidential. She is also unlikely to ever be handed a Ministerial red box that her estate could sell. Changing my MP would not make one jot of difference to these issues and many more that I believe should form part of a Parliamentary Covenant. An agreement between the people and Parliament that covers matters such as pay and conditions, behaviour and accountability. It may not stop the Government agreeing to frack under the Southdowns National Park as they seem certain to after todays vote, or bombing innocent people in the name of freedom which they agreed to do a week or so ago, both of which on the grand scheme of things are far more disturbing but it would ensure that MPs were not in a position to set the rules for their own work as if they are free to come and go as they please. We have a military covenant, and a covenant with our police officers.  These agreements are necessary because of the work that these men and women do which goes beyond the call of most of us who work 9-5 in our roles. I think we need a Parliamentary Covenant too, one that is set by ordinary people who have had no involvement in any political parties but who can set out the terms for our Parliamentarians without fear or favour, ensuring that they are freed to focus on other matters!


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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