A rather quiet piece of parliamentary business has seen the Chancellor, George Osborne, bow to Conservative backbench demands for MPs to be excluded from regulations intended to crack down on money laundering by politicians. The backbencher leading the calls for protection of MPs has already been a vocal opponent of financial transparency.
The legislation is part of a raft of measures in the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill which are supposed to clean up the banking sector. Already opposition politicians are worried that opportunities to achieve real change are being missed. One element of the bill concerns the responsibility of banks to undertake extra checks on so-called “politically exposed persons”, or PEPs. Hardly surprising given the UK’s status as a significant player in the global traffic of ill-gotten gains.
Conservative MP Charles Walker was worried, however, that banks may be targeting the wrong type of PEP. They should be concerned with “despots and dictators” he said, when launching his campaign to have UK MPs omitted from the definition. What was actually occurring was an intolerable intrusion into the financial affairs of MPs and their relatives.
This is the same Charles Walker who rather outlandishly threatened to table a bill to ban curtains if MPs were forced to publish their tax returns, on the grounds that the “nothing to fear, nothing to hide” maxim should be applied universally or not at all.
Strangely, this same Charles Walker also supported Theresa May’s intrusive Investigatory Powers Bill and other privacy-invading measures such as identification of trade union organisers, the bedroom tax and more draconian treatment of asylum seekers.
Regardless of these inconsistencies, Osborne clearly agreed with Walker that MPs can’t possibly be the sort of people that need their financial affairs monitoring closely and accepted Walker’s amended clause to the bill. As a result, MPs and their associates will be removed from banks’ watchlists.
If you have a strong opinion on the behaviour of MPs, you can contact your own here.
Support The Canary
Featured image via Flickr / mrgarethm
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?