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Preventing Corruption by MPs

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Member of Parliaments have an important role in ensuring the government is accountable to the citizens they represent. However, MPs, given their access to political power and influence, are themselves vulnerable to corruption and must be held accountable to the general public.

More and more, parliaments are instituting rules and regulations that manage the behavior of MPs and set a minimum standard for their behavior. This is usually as a result of a significant violation of ethics or prosecution for corruption by one or more MPs.

A key to ensuring accountability by MPs is a Code of Ethics that definies the minimum standards under which MPs are obliged to operate and to manage their personal and professional interests. Such codes also have a mechanism by which investigations are conducted and discipline or punishment is imposed. As a result of UNCAC, it is now accepted as an international standard that MPs must file on a regular basis a declaration of their financial interests. Such a declaration should identify any extra income (and the source) earned by the MP. It should also ensure the declaration of any gifts or donations to the MP and any debts or loans owed by the MP. These reports should be made accessible to the public to ensure transparency.

As MPs are generally chosen through elections, a related area of declaration is the need to declare campaign donations and financial contributions to political parties. The disclosure of these donations and the expenditures of political parties are critical to ensure citizens can understand if there has been any undue influence on the actions of the MP as a result of election funding.

Some parliaments and governments place limits on the ability of MPs to accept government contracts and employment for an extended period of time after they leave office (e.g. - 6-12 months). Others have registries of lobbyists so citizens can see who has been meeting with government officials and MPs and attempting to influence their work.

All of these measures, and others, are critical to the public having confidence in the work of their MPs and the parliament and the fact they are working in the public interest.