Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm sure there's a perfectly good excuse...

The new register of Members' Interests has been published, so time for the media to pore over local politicians' activities over the past twelvemonth and point out all those exciting foreign trips our elected representatives get to go on.

Perhaps they've missed a point. Here's the terms of reference:
The purpose of the Register is to encourage transparency, and through transparency, accountability. It is "to provide information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in Parliament, or actions taken in the capacity of a Member of Parliament...
2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc.
This is the section for registering outside employment, professions and sources of
remuneration (of more than £590 a year
Most importantly

...the obligation to register outside employment... is absolute
So, let's look at a few entries:
FEATHERSTONE, Lynne (Hornsey and Wood Green) [LIBERAL DEMOCRAT]
2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Councillor, London Borough of Haringey.
HANCOCK, Michael (Portsmouth South)[LIBERAL DEMOCRAT]
2.Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Councillor and an Executive Member of Portsmouth City Council
Two MPs who also sit on the benches of a local council, for which they are appropriately remunerated. (Can you guess where this one is going, kids?). Curiously, John Hemming appears unwilling to admit that he is also a councillor for the fair city of Birmingham (much as we wish that it were not the case).

HEMMING, John (Birmingham, Yardley)
2.Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
I am Senior Partner of John Hemming and Company; a software house.
Sole trader of MarketNet and Music Mercia International (part of John Hemming Trading).
Now we know that he has made an issue of not taking a salary, preferring to donate his salary as deputy leader to charity in return for some positive PR - as detailed by Unity over at Talk Politics a few months back.

Remember that phrase, though...
...the obligation to register outside employment... is absolute
Over to you John.

There's probably a perfectly good excuse.


Anonymous said...

There's a difference between 'not taking a salary' and taking a salary and donating it to charity. The former is not taking a salary the latter is taking a salary. What happens to it afterwards is purely a personal issue for Cllr Hemming. If he takes a council salary he should declare it.

There is another issue as to why I should pay my Council Tax for a Councillor to give it to charity. It's not as if the City Council has too much money to begin with.

john said...

I spotted this one as well and phoned the Register office who initially told me I didn't need to register and then told me I did. I have, therefore, registered it.

Mark said...

"There is another issue as to why I should pay my Council Tax for a Councillor to give it to charity."

Why should you or I think to control what a councillor does with their allowance?

If all councillors are entitled to them (and I think they are, given how many hours work is involved) then it's a bit of extreme control freakery to then want to order people what they do or don't do with the money they're given.

Not even Tony Blair in his worst moments has tried to tell Labour MPs what to do with their paypackets!