This was the view espoused by Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool in the House of Assembly (HOA) yesterday, Thursday June 30.
Vanterpool’s contention comes in the wake of now debunked allegations that he was set to resign from his seat in the HOA once again; after a government proposal to the United Kingdom included a June 30 deadline to amend the Act.
The Act in essence is a record kept of the financial interests of legislators. Its purpose is to give them the mechanism to publicly declare any private interests which may conflict or may be perceived to conflict with their public duties.
The new legislation however, calls for more categories of public officials to declare their assets and makes the declarations more publicly accessible on demand for persons who wish to do so.
Vanterpool, during his appeal to “slow it down a little bit”, said the new regulations appeared to be very encompassing and even more binding than those in the previous ROI Act.
“It is only fair to members of the House who have been elected to agree or not agree or even to agree to the new bill. It should not be binding on this Honourable House. It cannot be binding on this Honourable House, as a matter of fact, because it is not what this Honourable House’s members agreed to when they were elected,” Vanterpool argued.
He said while he was not against the bill in principle, legislators cannot make changes midstream that are binding on House members that are currently elected.
Vanterpool further argued that the current batch of legislators did not sign up to allow their assets to be inspected at the Registrar by any person who requests to do so, as the new bill stipulates.
“If you’re passing it, make sure it’s not binding on these thirteen [House members], but binding on the new elected officials that we are putting out there,” he added.
Vanterpool repeatedly emphasised that he did not want to make it appear as though he was against the new stipulations in the bill. He said he only believes the details of the bill need to be publicly aired so that everyone encompassed in the bill has a chance to determine how it affects them.
“Let’s make sure that persons who this can affect in a very binding way, in a very encompassing way, in a very intrusive way – if that’s what you signed on to – that those persons understand what this is all about,” Vanterpool argued.
He further argued that while it was “the right thing” for members of the public to know what the interests and likely conflicts of House members were, it was important to fully understand how far-reaching the bill was and for whom it was binding.
“Is it this House, is it the next House? In the middle of a House, a bill like this cannot be binding on the present members,” he stated.
“This is not what members signed on to when they ran for office. That is not the norm and that’s not how things operate,” he added.