Thursday, 18 November 2010

Conflict Of Interest & Political Control

ePolitix posts on the appointment of parliamentary private secretaries amid accusations that the executive is gaining excessive power over Parliament. A condition of their appointment is that the MPs in question must always support the government in any vote, or relinquish the appointment. 46 such appointments have been made to date and the list of names can be found on the No10 website.

Two important points arise - namely that with this practice 46 MPs have been 'taken out' of any possible rebellion on government policy and that therefore these appointments in effect increase the political hold that the Coalition has on its MPs and Parliament. It is also questionable whether a conflict of interest arises where the majority of a constituency are opposed to a particular policy and their MP has to support the government against the wishes of those who elected him/her.

Of course the position of PPS is usually a stepping stone to some level of ministerial appointment and who can blame an MP for wishing to advance his 'career'. Therein lies the problem, that MPs consider politics a career, when in fact it is to perform the public service of providing their constituents with a voice in the House of Commons.

According to the BBC, the UK has almost 120 ministers with Cabinet posts increased from 19 to 23, while the number of middle-ranking and junior ministers expanded from 41 to 96.This means that out of 363 Coalition MPs, virtually one third have been compromised in respect of their duties towards their constituents, as 'support or resignation' for the government applies to ministers as well as parliamentary private secretaries.

This practice demonstrates that besides gaining excessive control over Parliament it also gains excessive control over the electorate - yup, I'm back on my hobby-horse of 'democratised dictatorship'!

To paraphrase Ayn Rand:
"Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group and use that group as a means of attaining dictatorial powers"


1 comment:

pop said...

I saw some of the debate on electoral reform.

A very important issue was that with a reduction of seats (from 650 to 600), the number of 'free' MPs is reduced even further!

I think a point was made that the conservative party plus the libdems in government (so obliged to support the government) was a majority in itself!