Born and bred in Glasgow, I feel a surge of understandable civic pride when I see how the law protects the citizens of Glasgow from corruption and venality among their elected officials. (see Declaration of Councillors Interest document, reproduced below)
Secure in the knowledge that the legislation on Ethical Standards in Public Life and the Register of Interests Regulations requires every Glasgow city councillor to complete such a comprehensive declaration of interests, I can relax. Democracy is safe, in Glasgow at least. (I am certain that Edinburgh has a similar document, but corruption among elected officials in Edinburgh has not been at the forefront of my civic concerns in recent years.)
Corruption among elected officials strikes at the very heart of democracy, opening up the certainty of involvement of organised crime, perversion of journalistic values and a free press, with not even the processes of law and policing being exempt from the spreading cancer.
When corruption exists in government, commercial dealings are insidiously influenced: ethical procurement practices, tendering processes, contractual processes are all subject to its poisonous effects.
The information controlled by elected politicians, instead of being a force for openness, consultation and engagement with the electorate and the people, becomes something to be traded for profit. Insider information, say on the timing of a major city development project, if leaked to speculators could yield enormous unearned profits.
No one, no person, no institution, however venerable, is immune from political corruption. The levers of power have a hidden hand at their base: the framing and enactment of legislation is perverted by considerations of private greed, patronage and profit. And since corruption and organised crime know no local or national boundaries, forces and interests far beyond the democratic structures of constituencies, regions and countries exert insidious influences, invisible to the people.
The law-abiding, moral, ethical citizen become the victim of corruption, and is even obliged to be compliant, or at least silent in the face of it, by subtle mix of appeals to self-interest, to career prospects and advancement, to misplaced loyalties to party, religion and social group.
When this approach fails, and the most resilient individuals resist it, then an escalating process of intimidation, smear, manipulation of legal processes and where necessary, threats and violence come into play.
So it is with a feeling of relief and civic pride that I look at the great bulwarks that protect us from corruption - the law, a free press and media, and of course, a little declaration of interest, of which the Glasgow City Council form, reproduced below, is a fine example.
Let Glasgow flourish!
REGISTER OF COUNCILLORS’ INTERESTS
The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
(Register of Interests) Regulations 2003
Last updated 6 May 2009
I, (name of councillor), a member of Glasgow City Council give notice that I have set out in the attached form, my interests as required to be declared under the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (Register of Interests) Regulations 2003. I have also ensured that where I have no applicable interest I have stated “none” in the relevant section(s).
I further understand that it is my responsibility to notify the Chief Executive, in writing, of any applicable change(s) in circumstances within one month of that/those changes occurring.
Please complete this form in conjunction with reading the relevant paragraphs as detailed at each section (extracted from the Councillors’ Code of Conduct) together with the list of definitions included within the register. Please note the paragraph numbering relates to the sequence within the Code.
If you have any doubts as to whether or not you should declare a particular interest, it is wiser to supply the information rather than omit something which you should have declared.
4.3 You have a registerable interest where you receive remuneration by virtue of being:
the holder of an office;
a director of an undertaking;
a partner in a firm; or
undertaking a trade, profession or vocation, or other work.
4.4 You do not have a registerable interest simply because you are a councillor.
4.5 If a position is not remunerated it does not need to be registered under this category. However, unremunerated directorships may need to be registered under category 2 “Related Undertakings”.
4.6 If you receive any allowances in relation to membership of any organisation the fact that you receive such an allowance must be registered.
4.7 When registering employment, you must give the name of the employer, the nature of its business and the nature of the post held in the organisation.
4.8 When registering self-employment, you must provide the name and give details of the nature of the business. When registering an interest in a partnership, you must give the name of the partnership and the nature of its business.
4.9 Where you otherwise undertake a trade, profession or vocation, or any other work, the detail to be given is the nature of the work and its regularity. For example, if you write for a newspaper, you must give the name of the publication and the frequency of articles for which you are paid.
4.10 When registering a directorship, it is necessary to provide the registered name of the undertaking in which the directorship is held and detail the nature of its business.
4.11 Registration of a pension is not required as this falls outside the scope of the category.
(a) Give particulars of all paid employment specifying name(s) of employer(s), nature of business and title(s) of position(s) held. If self-employed give name and nature of business.
(b) If you are a partner in a business give name of partnership and nature of its business.
(c) Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council) for which you receive payment – eg Trade Union or professional
body. (Do not include any office/membership for which you do not receive remuneration, this is dealt with at Section 7).
(d) Give details of any directorship(s) held by you (as specified at 4.10 above).
(e) Give details of other paid work (as specified at 4.9 above).
2 RELATED UNDERTAKINGS.
4.12 You must register any directorships held which are themselves not remunerated but where the company (or other undertaking) in question is a subsidiary of, or a parent of, a company (or other undertaking) in which you hold a remunerated directorship.
4.13 You must register the name of the subsidiary or parent company or other undertaking and the nature of its business, and its relationship to the company or other undertaking in which you are a director and from which you receive remuneration.
4.14 The situations to which the above paragraphs apply are as follows:
you are a director of a board of an undertaking and receive remuneration – declared under Category one – and
you are a director of a parent or subsidiary undertaking but do not receive remuneration in that capacity.
Give details of any directorships held by you, as specified above.
4.15 You have a registerable interest where you (or a firm in which you are a partner, or an undertaking in which you are a director or in which you have shares of a value as described in paragraph 4.20 below) have made a contract with the Council of which you are a member:
under which goods or services are to be provided, or works are to be
(ii) which has not been fully discharged.
4.16 You must register a description of the contract, including its duration, but excluding the consideration.
Give details, as specified above, in relation to contracts with Glasgow City Council which have not been fully discharged, including description of that/those contract(s) and duration.
4 ELECTION EXPENSES.
4.17 You must register a statement of any assistance towards election expenses received within the last twelve months.
Give details of any assistance received over the last 12 months as specified above.
5 HOUSES, LAND AND BUILDINGS.
4.18 You have a registerable interest where you own or have any other right or interest in houses, land and buildings, such as being an owner or a tenant, including council tenant.
4.19 You are required to give the address of the property, or otherwise give a description sufficient to identify it.
Give details of houses, land and buildings as specified above.
6 SHARES AND SECURITIES.
4.20 You have a registerable interest where you have an interest in shares comprised in the share capital of a company or other body and the nominal value of the shares is:
greater than 1% of the issued share capital of the company or other
(ii) greater than £25,000.
Give details of any shares and securities held by you as specified above.
7 NON FINANCIAL INTERESTS.
4.21 Councillors may also have significant non-financial interests and it is equally important that relevant interests such as membership or holding office in public bodies, companies, clubs, societies and organisations such as trades unions and voluntary organisations, are registered and described. In this context, non-financial interests are those which members of the public might reasonably think could influence your actions, speeches or votes in the Council.
Give details of any office/membership held by you (outwith Glasgow City Council), for which you do not receive remuneration, as specified above.
8 GIFTS AND HOSPITALITY.
3.6 You must never ask for gifts or hospitality.
3.7 You are personally responsible for all decisions connected with the acceptance of gifts or hospitality offered to you and for avoiding the risk of damage to public confidence in your Council and in local government. As a general guide, it is usually appropriate to refuse offers except:
(a) isolated gifts of a trivial character or inexpensive seasonal gifts such as a calendar or diary or other simple items of office equipment of modest value;
(b) normal hospitality associated with your duties and which would reasonably be regarded as appropriate; or
(c) civic gifts received on behalf of the Council.