The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.


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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Misrepresentation of the People Act (Mk 1)

Here ya go...


The Misrepresentation of the People Act


A

Bill

to


Ensure honesty, transparency and accountability from

the representatives of the People and their employees.



The obligation for honesty and transparency in matters of government by those elected to represent the People and their employees is absolute. They act on behalf of the People, their sovereignty flows from the people and is conditional upon such honesty and transparency.

S.1 Where an elected representative of the people or an agent employed on their behalf recklessly or with intent to deceive, publishes or causes to be published in their employment in office, a statement or account which to their knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, they shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

S.2 It shall be an offence under this Act for a representative of the people, or agent employed on their behalf to –

  1. Publish a statement, promise or forecast which he knows to be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular, or

  2. Dishonestly conceals any material facts whether in connection with a statement, promise or forecast published by him, or

  3. Recklessly publishes (dishonestly or otherwise) a statement, promise or forecast which is misleading, false or deceptive in a material manner.

S.3 It shall be a defence for any person charged with an offence under section 2 to show that at the time of the offence he -

  1. did not know, or could not have been reasonably expected to know that his act or conduct would create an impression that was false or misleading, or

  2. had no intent to deceive or conceal, or

  3. had no part in causing or permitting the publication of the statement or any part thereof, or

  4. could not reasonably be expected to have known that the statement to which the charge relates was inaccurate and misleading, or

  5. took all due care to ensure the accuracy of the statement, or

  6. acted in the interest of National Security.

S.4 Where a person causes any wasteful employment by knowingly making to a person a false report tending to show an offence has been committed, or tending to show he has information material to any police enquiry, he shall be liable for this offence on indictment only.

S.5 A person guilty of an offence of misrepresenting the people under this Act shall be liable on summary conviction and or indictment, to be disqualified forthwith from being elected to stand as a representative of the people, whether elected or otherwise.

16 comments:

  1. Tony the Hairdresser15 Feb 2007, 09:25:00

    Oooohhhhhh, get youuuu.

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  2. Sounds pretty good to me. Strange that something so fundamental doesn't exist already...I really hope you manage to find an MP to help you get this passed

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  3. Ok so this will make party manifestos legally binding? Great. How about limits on documents which can be withheld from the public eye? If this law was to be passed the politicians could easily get round it by slapping a 50 year information ban on basically everything.

    davey

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  4. Davey - Freedom of Information Act deals with information bans. Plus, judges can force ministries etc. to hand over documents (arms for Iraq)

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  5. I wonder how many MPs have been approached already (to take over this Bill) and what they have said...

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  6. Anonymous said...
    "I wonder how many MPs have been approached already (to take over this Bill) and what they have said.."

    We'll be approaching MPs to find one who'll support it from Monday. Parliament's in recess at the moment.

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  7. I’m glad there’s a clause dealing with the punishment of those who try to make nuisance accusations: that should help convince people that the act won’t unnecessarily disrupt the running of the country.

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  8. Looks good. Couple of thoughts though.

    1. I'm the last one to want to add a loophole, and I'm sure a combination of the points under S3. would cover this, but I think a lot of people would have a problem with convicting MPs on their promises or forecasts. If the dude was lying through his/her teeth or intentionally 'misread' the indicators, then by all means, but if (s)he can prove that unforeseen circumstances lead to the lapse, that should be enough to find innocence. As I said, points 2 and 5 basically cover this, but it might be worth stating explicitly to assure people that the bill won't hamstring government either.

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  9. PS. I worry about the National Security clause.

    "It was in the interests of National Security" seems a bit too conveniently open to interpretation.

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  10. Dead_elves - I agree with your concerns on the National Security clause: I can’t quite decide if its vagueness is good or bad. I mean, on the one hand, there might be valid reasons to withhold information other than matters of National Security per se (eg trying to prevent a devaluation of the pound or other economic matters), but on the other hand, it does sound rather open to manipulation.

    Also, is it a defence if the MP believed he was acting in the interest of National Security, but was later proved to have been wrong (or misled)? Or does that defence only hold if the action can be proved to have successfully protected the nation?

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  11. OK, so how 'bout this...

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/15022007/325/mps-slam-failure-meet-transport-targets.html

    Do they get prosecuted under this one ?

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  12. yumyum - I think this would probably fall more under mismanagement than misrepresentation. While I feel we should be able to remove MPs for that as well, I think one would need a separate law dealing with that. This act specifically deals with dishonesty.

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  13. Just one suggestion. For this Bill to work, you would need to remove the inconsistency with regard to the mens rea required to constitute the offence. Section 1 states the offence may be committed "recklessly or with intent to deceive", whereas in Section 3.2 lack of intent to deceive can be a defence, effectively excluding the possibility of a conviction for recklessness. So, which is it? Intent or recklessness? A choice needs to be made...

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  14. I would suggest an amendment to S5: “to be disqualified forthwith from being elected to stand as a representative of the people, whether elected or otherwise.”

    Surely it would better read: “to be disqualified forthwith from standing as a representative of the people, whether elected or otherwise”.

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  15. You might be advised to remove that specific punishment clause altogether. It allows your opponents to charge you with being undemocratic: if a politician is found guilty and punished, but later reforms (persuading the public that he is now fit to represent them once again), why should he not be free to run for election? A lifelong ban on taking public office seems a bit harsh…

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