Under Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure, States’ Members are required to submit an annual Declaration of Interests to the States’ Greffier. Declaration of Interest is a standard practice in the corporate world, with many businesses going to extensive lengths to ensure they have open and transparent procedures in how potential conflicts of interest are managed and avoided.
In a small community like Guernsey, the likelihood of a conflict is potentially heightened in cases where deputies may hold local commercial interests and where government policy and regulations have an effect on these.
Guernsey has had a number of high-profile cases, which had led to deputies losing their positions. Openness and transparency is a pillar of our democratic system that ensures trust in government. Therefore, upholding high standards in the aspect of commercial disclosure to avoid and manage any potential conflicts of interests deputies is important in maintaining trust in how government works.
“States rules are clear on the importance of the declaration of commercial interests so that any potential conflict can be managed.
The Declaration of Interest form asks deputies to certify that to the best of their knowledge and belief, the Declaration gives full and complete particulars, of all matters that deputies are required to declare. Therefore, it should not matter how interests are held, whether directly or through an investment company.There are quite clear instructions that these need to be declared and so where relevant, they should be disclosed on a look-through basis.
The declaration form itself provides plenty of areas where the interest can be declared including Part 11 entitled “Any other businesses” as well as the encouragement to submit Appendices if deputies require more space to add brief explanations, addresses or other details.
However, now there is no enforcement as to how forms are filled-in and so in the end, it’s up to each deputy how they choose to interpret the declaration and fill in the form.