Friday, May 11, 2007

The Freedom of Information Act was one Blair success- now underthreat!

Above FOI, Maclean & Winnick

The Freedom of Information Act of 2000 was unambiguously a good thing; it made ministers, civil servants, MPs, council officials and council officers all think carefully before they did things and to put it bluntly, made it harder for them to cover things up when they made a balls up. If you doubt that, have a look at this guide HERE and you will see what a powerful piece of legislation; the BBC's expert on such things Martin Rosenbaum, a fully paid up lefty but a great talent also has quite an interesting blog on the subject.

Shockingly Tory MP (and former Conservative Chief Whip) David Maclean has introduced a private members bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to exempt from its provisions the House of Commons and House of Lords and correspondence between Members of Parliament and public authorities. Exempt MPs! Like the recent decision of parliament to award themselves an extra £10k 'communications allowance' (campaigning and self-promotion money more like), the general public are never likely to feel this is fair and proper. Maclean argues that correspondence with constituents must be protected from public disclosure but i think it has more to do with many MPs disliking scrutiny when it comes to things like having to publish their expense claims. I am gobsmacked by Maclean himself- a man who has worked hard and is an outspoken MP who has been battling MS since 1997. I have met him a couple of times, respect and like him and frankly thought better of him.

Thank-god for men like Tory, Richard Shepard then who wrote a critique of the bill for The Telegraph, Lib-Dem Norman Baker and Labour man David Winnick who talked out the bill. I read today however that it is to be revived and this time Labour Whips have actually sent out an 'unofficial' three-line whip to back an exemption and support the bill. Disgustingly because they know this to be unpopular, they have done this secretly while pretending to be neutral on the amendment.

No wonder politicians are held in such low esteem.

Good luck to the awkward squad; I hope you manage to talk out the bill so this dangerous and immoral legislation does not become law.


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