Friday, May 18, 2007

'A Black day for Parliament' - FOIA exemption bill

..well said, David Heath MP. My wife was using the computer for a little while and our digibox telly was on the blink so I resorted to Ceefax for the first time in several years. It was a bit like going back to writing on a slate with a stone.

But Ceefax informed me of the outrageous bill going through Parliament to exempt MPs and Lords from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA was astoundingly watered down in the first place. To think that some jumped up Tory wants to exempt MPs and Lords from it, is just breathtakingly disgraceful!

Of course, Tories will always find non-sensical arguments like confidentiality of letters from constituents. But you have to ask: Does this stop Sweden from having one of the world's best freedom of information regimes? Or the USA?


  1. Well said Paul, very interesting to hear Brown had 'no comment' on this after all his talk about restoring the trust in politice yesterday..

  2. Fair comment

    What I'm asking myself is where were all the other Lib Dem MPs.

    Important enough email for Ming to email members yesterday. Not important enough for him to vote on today.

  3. Sorry about this - but can't resist! I can remember campaigning as a young Liberal in the late 1960's early 1970's for open access to information. Many years later the door was opened slightly - and I wholly agree, this latest caper is a disater! HOWEVER, I don't think the LibDems (as young Liberals have morphed) would do much better. Over past 13 years West Berks seemed remarkably keen on closed sessions - generally claiming 'commercial sensitivity' In my view thats the Local Government 'state security' excuse. In both cases pretty lame!

  4. History man, I think you can recognise that the LibDems have been the only group in the Commons opposing this outrageous move to exempt parliament from the FOIA.

    Can you name one example in the last 16 years in West Berkshire where a Part Two meeting took place illegally? After all, there is an Act of Parliament which covers such matters isn't there? And were there any examples when these were opposed by the opposition who were at liberty to vote against putting the meeting into Part Two - after all all meetings start in Part One and have to be voted into Part Two don't they?

  5. History man seems to ignore the fact that use of the Local Government Part Two procedure is subject to scrutiny by:

    -council legal officers
    -councillors of all parties
    -Council Ombudsman
    -District Auditor
    -the Local Government Standards board.

    ....So it is not an "excuse" which can be used at whim.

    Also, the LibDems in power in Scotland - with Labour - have introduced what is universally recognised as the most transparent system of publishing member's expenses, allowances and salaries. It is a shame that Labour in league with the Tories are Westminster want to be so secretive about member's expenses.