Wednesday May 22, 2024

UK also declares Toshakhana gifts

The UK’s Register of Interests is to provide information about any financial interest which an MP has

By Kasim Abbasi
September 27, 2021
UK PM Boris Johnson outside his office in London.
UK PM Boris Johnson outside his office in London.

ISLAMABAD: The United Kingdom has declared all earnings, payments, gifts, benefits, properties, lands and foreign travellings of all the officials including the prime minister in its latest published Register of Members’ Financial Interest report.

The official report is updated on a monthly basis and covers a wide range of interests gained by the MPs and is made public so that nothing remains secret. Apart from the Great Britain, the officials and government representatives of Scandinavian countries -- which are idealised by Pakistan’s ruling party PTI along with Prime Minister Imran Khan -- also make public declaration of each gift or hospitality actions by the foreign countries on annual or monthly basis.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in the latest ‘Register of Members’ Financial Interests’ publicised on September 20, declared ownership of three new properties, one donation, two payments received as salaries and an amount of over £6,000 earned as royalties from books already written apart from the gifts given to him.

According to the latest guidelines for the government offices and officials in Sweden, the gifts exceeding a value equivalent to 300-400 Swedish kronor should not be kept by the receiving official but must be handed into the ministry’s official gifts repository.

In Switzerland, all the government servants are bound to declare and submit gifts given to them from all over the world which are displayed in their National Museum Zurich. The UK’s policy about interests is wide-ranging. As well as their own interests, the MPs may need to declare the interests of partners and family members, which do not appear in the Register. They may also need to declare interests which have not yet materialised but are expected to arise in the future. Again, the rules are set out in the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members. If there is evidence that an MP has not registered or declared their interests when the rules of the House required them to do so, the parliamentary Interest Commissioner may investigate. If he finds that they have broken the rules on registration, but this was minor or inadvertent, he may resolve the inquiry himself by means of the rectification procedure. However, in more serious cases he may also submit a formal memorandum to the Committee on Standards for the Committee to consider.

The UK’s Register of Interests is to provide information about any financial interest which an MP has, or any benefit which he or she receives, which others might reasonably consider to influence his or her actions or words as a Member of Parliament. The members must register any change to their registerable interests within 28 days.

The Register is maintained by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It is updated fortnightly online when the House is sitting, and less frequently at other times. The Interests remain on the Register for twelve months after they have expired. Meanwhile, everything is public.

During the current year, Boris Johnson received two payments — one from Hodder and Stoughton UK, Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0DZ, via United Agents, 12-26 Lexington St, London W1F 0LE and the other from HarperCollins UK, 1 London Bridge St, London SE1 9GF, via Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN. While the English prime minister declared a total of 6560 pounds earnings as royalties from the books already written by him. In addition, the premier also declared a donation made to him. Three properties that Boris Johnson bought were also declared by him in the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests, one in the current year and two in 2018 and 2019.

According to England’s policy, a member parliament is bound to declare any earnings or payments received over £100. Any donation in money or in kind valued at over £1,500, and any donation in money or in kind valued at over £500 is also to be declared. This includes loans and ‘linked’ donations received via a party organization. Further, any gifts, benefits and hospitality from the UK sources with a value over £300 must be declared by the members. The visits outside the UK valuing over £300 should also be disclosed. The gifts and benefits from the sources outside the UK with value of over £300 must also be shown. Any land or property if the MP’s portfolio has a value over £100,000 or any land or property if the MP’s portfolio generates annual income over £10,000 must also be disclosed.

Apart from these, shareholdings where the MP holds more than 15pc or worth more than £70,000 must also be disclosed. Any other interest or benefit, if the MP believes that someone else might reasonably consider the interest to influence their actions or words should also be put forward. The family members employed and remunerated through the parliamentary expenses should be disclosed too.