Good Practice Examples

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MPs

In India, a declaration of assets is mandatory within 90 days of taking office as a member of parliament

In India, voters have the fundamental right to know the financial background of any person contesting elections to Parliament. Since 2003, it has become common practice for candidates contesting elections to Parliament to submit an official declaration disclosing details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and three dependents. The Election Commission of India is required to make these affidavits public so that voters may get to know the background of electoral candidates.

After a candidate wins elections to either House of Parliament it becomes mandatory for them to declare their assets (movable and immovable property for self, spouse and dependent children) within 90 days of taking oath of office as an MP. Liabilities to public financial institutions and the central and any state government must also be disclosed.

Source: www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/rti/parl_citizens_bridging_gap_thro_greater_transparency.pdf

In the US, the "America’s Legislators Back to School" program enables legislators to meet with young people

In the United States, the National Conference of State Legislatures operates a program called "America’s Legislators Back to School". The program gives elected parliamentarians in all 50 states the opportunity to meet personally with their young constituents and to answer questions, share ideas, and listen to concerns. The program is designed to teach young people what it is like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise. The program is emphasised as a bipartisan event.

Source: www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/legislators-back-to-school.aspx

In the US, the House and Senate removed restrictive rules governing members’ use of social media

Before the digital age, Congress established ‘franking rules’ on communication to constituents. These governed how Members could use public funds to send mass mailings to constituents, while guarding against incumbents using this privilege to advance political campaigns. When these rules were extended to include social media, at first they were restrictively applied, effectively making popular social media services such as Facebook and Twitter out of bounds. This reflected fears that using social media would imply a commercial endorsement through association with advertising, could tarnish the status of the institution, might create security issues, and would make inappropriate political activity harder to catch.

Following emerging experience, debates and a campaign led by the Sunlight Foundation, in 2008, the House and Senate revised these rules and allowed members and staff to use social media to correspond with constituents more freely, while still maintaining the principles of no product endorsement, no partisan material and no unrelated personal information.

While there is no overall social media policy, the House and Senate rules now makes clear that Federal law and House Rules on communication apply to all ‘official content of material posted by the Member on any website’, but not to the broader social media platform itself.

Source: sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2008/10/03/web-use-reform-happy-ending/, cha.house.gov/member-services/handbooks, www.senate.gov/usage/internetpolicy.htm.

The European Parliament runs live chats on Facebook with MEPs

The European Parliament has undertaken a strategy to engage the public in the places where they are and to use social media tools to promote public understanding and interest in the parliament. It has developed custom applications inside Facebook to run live chats with members, to find their local MEP and connect to their Facebook page. It has also run a competition to select a citizen to be a Facebook “editor” for a day.

Source: www.ipu.org/PDF/publications/SMG2013EN.pdf

The Scottish parliament has developed a series of key principles that guide the practices of parliament and the work of MSPs

After a wide public consultation process, the Scottish Parliament published a set of Key Principles in 1999, ‘Shaping Scotland’s Parliament’ which set out how the Parliament should work. The Principles are:

Accountable: the Scottish Parliament is answerable to the people of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament should hold the Scottish Government to account; Open and Encourage Participation: the Scottish Parliament should be accessible and involve the people of Scotland in its decisions as much as possible; Power Sharing: power should be shared among the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland, and Equal Opportunities: the Scottish Parliament should treat all people fairly.

Source: www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/Education/18651.aspx