James Governor's Monkchips

Genius Idea: A Sarbanes-Oxley for politicians

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Matt Mower comes up with a doozer. The problem – politicans vote on bills without reading them. The solution – make them swear by what they sign. If its good for the goose then why not the gander?

My current opinion is that MP’s should be required to make a legally binding declaration that they have, personally, read and understood the full text of any bill or amendment before voting on it. With effective censures available for any MP discovered to have voted on a bill they did not read. This would need to be backed with some kind of commons oversight facility to turn up offenders.

As a side-effect this might also slow down the passage of legislation through parliament. Given the quality of legislation persued by this (and to be fair every other government I have lived through) I can only see that as being a good thing.


  1. An interesting thought. I remember hearing that when the Environmental Party (Miljöpartiet) in Sweden got into the parliament the first time in ’88 they took a new policy of actually reading all new legislation which was put in front of them before they voted. Apparently they did this for some time and then were so overworked that they had to stop trying to do that. Now, I can’t actually find a reference for this, so it may well be an urban myth (but it is pre-web, so I feel excused). But I am convinced that you are right. I think it would slow down passing of legislation significantly.

  2. Another thing that might work is keeping the length of a piece of legislation down.

    If something is actually capable of being read by a normal human being, it might mean that legislators can comprehend it.

  3. […] got into the office and found an interesting link on my Monkchips blog – as part of a comment on a completely different topic. I followed it and came to Thomas Bjelkeman, one of the leaders behind GreenOcean, a […]

  4. For sure legislation needs to be written by human beings, rather than government nerds, but I still fully support the notion. How about signing in blood?

  5. I also do agree with you but also I think that (as per my knowledge) MPs do not have that much of time to read the whole bill and it will take them lot of time to understand the whole bill, actually they could not predict the actual impact of the new legislation bill other than experts who do have deep knowledge about that particular bill theme, so it is best to assemble the views of various experts and than the MP’s should decide taking into view of various experts to vote for that particular bill or not to vote.

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