17Jun

Members of parliament being subject to background checks – Opinion piece


When someone is running to be a member of parliament, how do you know if they are trustworthy before giving them your vote? With the upcoming election looming, a question that may be crossing your mind is whether those running for parliament are subject to background checks.

Technically the answer is yes, Members of Parliament or those looking to become an MP can be subject to background screening procedures, however, the nature of the background checks can vary.

So, what are some of the instances where MPs may be subject to background checks?

  • Initial Candidate Selection
    When political parties are going through their initial candidate selections, they typically conduct their own background checks. While there isn’t necessarily a legal requirement for MPs to go through a formal background check, some political parties may request basic DBS checks to reveal any criminal records.
  • National Security
    If there are MPs who are appointed to government positions that involve national security, they may need to go through higher levels of security clearance vetting. However, the level of vetting can depend on the sensitivity of the position they are assigned to.

 

Should background checks become compulsory for all members of parliament? That is the question that comes to mind. Should all MPs be subject to the same level of checks across the board, and should it become a legal requirement?

Back in 2016, Labour lobbied for a legislation change that would allow political parties to apply for enhanced DBS checks on those wanting to become a parliamentary candidate, but nothing came of this due to Brexit.

So, what are the pros and cons of background checks for MPs becoming a legal requirement?

PROS

  • Public trust
    Background checks of potential and current MPs would prove their integrity and would improve the public trust in elected officials and politics as a whole.
  • Professional consistency
    Many professions such as teachers, police, health care workers and other civil servants require background checks to safeguard the public, and there is an argument to be made that MPs may also interact with vulnerable members of the public, so they should also go through the same background checks.
  • Conflicts of interest
    Bringing in mandatory background checks may help identify any potential conflicts of interest. It could highlight any financial improprieties or affiliations with organisations that may affect an MPs ability to be impartial.

CONS

  • Privacy concerns
    Despite the title of MP, they are also private citizens, so extensive background checks could be seen as an invasion of their privacy as it any information found could be made public.
  • Voter responsibility
    As it is ultimately the voters who decide who is elected, there is an argument to be made that the voters should be the ones to decide if someone’s background should go against them running to become an elected official.
  • Abuse of knowledge
    There is also the risk that information gained from background checks of MPs could be misused for political gain.

 

To conclude everything that has been discussed in today’s blog post, while it is important that background checks for current and potential MPs would increase the trust in the public and enhance accountability, making background checks mandatory for all must be done with careful consideration to ensure a fair and transparent political process.

What do you think?

Are you interested in finding out more about the benefits of background checks? Get in touch with us today on 01443 799900 or email us at info@cbscreening.co.uk.

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