MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: CDU CSU
Mister President! Dear colleagues! Dear colleagues! For the second time this year, we are changing the law of parliament today. At the end of May we decided on a zero round for diets. Today we are introducing two new fines for misconduct by MPs. It is a good sign that we can agree on these administrative fines in §§ 12 and 44a of the Deputies Act by mutual agreement. The last time we wanted to introduce a fine against MPs a good nine years ago, we had to do so against the bitter resistance of the Left Party and the Greens.
What will be sanctioned with a new fine in the future, and why are we doing it? So far, a member of parliament has been threatened with a fine if, for example, incorrect or missing information about notifiable activities or notifiable income is given. In this way, violations of the transparency regulations in parliamentary law can be punished. So far, however, there has been no fine for violations of the duty to notify donations or even against the acceptance of an impermissible advantage. This is clearly a regulatory gap; it cannot be explained why a fine is set against a member of parliament if he does not report an activity correctly or in good time, but on the other hand no fine if he has concealed a donation. We are now closing this gap.
We are also closing a second gap; because we also introduce a fine in the event of unlawful employment. The Members’ Act already regulates that we Members can only use our parliamentary staff, our staff paid by the Bundestag, for our parliamentary work. The Federal Constitutional Court instructed us in autumn 2017 to make this regulation more specific and clear, especially with regard to party work and election campaign times. That is what we did in the Council of Elders in the autumn by adopting guidelines and there we adopted a list of the specific activities that members of parliament are prohibited from doing in the future. Since then everyone has known what is allowed, and in particular what is forbidden.
We are now introducing a fine for cases in which these clear regulations are violated. In any case, the amount of the fine that we set is considerable; because for each violation fines can be set up to the amount of half of the annual parliamentary compensation.
Now some will wonder how it is with a refund claim that is expressly not regulated here. We discussed it. We considered that – and I say this particularly for my group – to be purely declaratory, because this public-law reimbursement right, an institute that recognizes case law, already exists. That is why we see no reason why it should be standardized again. The right to reimbursement exists.
Why do we need fines against MPs? Ultimately, this serves to protect the free mandate. If we give ourselves rules on how we should behave, then we must also sanction if we violate these rules in the exercise of our mandate. That is why we have to keep adapting the rules and provide sanctions whenever there are circumstances that make it necessary.
With the law, we will also remove uncertainties that have arisen with the code of conduct in recent years. One of these regulations seemed to forbid any reference to membership in the Bundestag when interpreted literally. This includes, for example, the information in the CV on a website. That was of course never intended, never the original meaning of this regulation, which is now being clarified. It is now clearly and explicitly prohibited to misuse notices – improper notices! – that are suitable for generating an advantage in professional or business matters due to membership in the German Bundestag.
Last, but not least, another regulation with which we will abolish the printed work of the official manual. That is certainly not the focus of interest. But today all of this can be regulated and published much more easily and conveniently and, above all, more cost-effectively via the Internet. After all, that saves 700,000 euros in each election period.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, there are certainly other construction sites that we can and should talk about here. We will certainly hear further suggestions now. We also discussed one or the other, and we will continue that at the appropriate point. However, it is important that we come to Potte today with this bill. We did not come to a quorum on all the points that we still have to discuss or that we want to discuss. We have to regulate the fine now, especially with a view to the election campaign, which is about to begin. We are already setting up today; some colleagues are already set up. We need security there, we also need the signal to the outside world that we are taking what the Federal Constitutional Court has instructed us to do seriously and that we are implementing it. This is now happening in good time. I therefore ask that you approve this proposal here.
(Applause from the CDU / CSU and Deputy Dr. Matthias Bartke [SPD])
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.