One Bermuda Alliance MP and former Premier Michael Dunkley, supports “a specific” Ministerial Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. And he supports “the House looking at one”.
Responding to the new updated and strengthened document, due to be tabled in the House of Assembly by Minister of Government Reform Lovitta Foggo, he said he “gave up all” of his directorships” apart from his “direct business” at Dunkley’s, “to avoid potential conflict”.
Asked by Bermuda Real for his views on the amended Code of Conduct, he said: “MPs have no official code of conduct but do have a Members Interest Register and Rules of the House to follow.
“There should be a specific MPs Code of Conduct and I would support the House looking at one.”
As the immediate former Premier, he said: “I had it updated and all Ministers had to sign it after declaring interests. I am not sure how any new one differs as a copy has not been made public as far as I am aware.”
But he agreed with the Minister on the issue of transparency.
“Elected officials should always be open and transparent for many reasons, one important one being it will help with any concerns about conflict of interest.”
He also echoed concerns raised by fellow MP Dr Grant Gibbons, who questioned Minister Foggo on the protocol for disclosure.
On that note he said: “Interest should be disclosed but not in all cases made public unless necessary.” But he generally agreed with full disclosure overall.
“A Premier must ensure his colleagues operate at all times fairly and without favour,” said Mr Dunkley.
“In the House, the Speaker has a similar responsibility. I made sure with the new Ministerial Code of Conduct that we operated at a very high level of accountability and transparency.
“Interests and directorships declared and Ministers always had to declare an interest around the Cabinet table if a subject came up that they might have had an interest in,” he added.
“The world we live in asks for a great deal of compliance and oversight, thus, public officials must be open and transparent.
“When I became a Minister I gave up all my directorships, other than my direct business such as Dunkley’s, to avoid potential conflict.
Minister Foggo provided an update earlier this month on the new amended Ministerial Code of Conduct for MPs “to ensure that Cabinet is held to the highest ethical standards”, with “more rigid disclosure requirements”.
Historically, she said members were “required to surrender only gifts valued in excess of $250, however Ministers have not traditionally been required to disclosure gifts of a lesser value”.
The amended Code of Conduct requires a Minister, “as soon as possible after the receipt of all gifts of any value, to disclose the gift to the Permanent Secretary”. Minist
ers will also be required “to disclosure all hospitality from any source which might reasonably be thought to influence Ministerial action in any manner”.
Minister must also “immediately disclose such hospitality”. And “an official disclosure form will be created and distributed electronically to each Minister and Ministry to ensure that this mandate is operationalized”.
“Transparency and integrity in office are at the heart of this endeavour,” said Ms Foggo.
Ministers were also required to participate in a training session on the amended Code of Conduct to clarify the requirements.
The Minister noted that the new administration has “worked tirelessly to put steps and safeguards in place to ensure that the integrity of the public office is upheld”.
Said Ms Foggo: “This Government is committed to good governance, good government, and ensuring that the operations and financial affairs of all public authorities are open and transparent.”