Today’s vote to make MPs unaccountable

As I write, MPs are today debating whether to exempt themselves from their own freedom of information law. This goes directly against explicit claims made by the House of Commons to improve public information and engagement.

Barry Wintrobe, academic and author of the Number 10 petition against the Bill has sent over a collection of MPs’ rhetoric in this regard which highlights the utter hypocrisy of today’s action.

“It serves no-one if we make it difficult for voters to understand what their elected representatives are doing. Too often the impression is given that the House of Commons is a private club, run for the benefit of its Members, where members of the public are tolerated only on sufferance. … the Commons can make itself more accessible to those outside, both as interested visitors and as citizens wishing to be more involved in proceedings, it can do more to make it easier for people to understand the work of Parliament, and it can do more to communicate its activity to the world outside”

It is also worth mentioning that the Bill’s sponsor, David Maclean, is not just an ordinary backbencher but a member of the House of Commons Commission, the institutional governing body of the Commons.

As previous media stories have suggested, this Bill may be informally supported by the Commission and Speaker (eg Guardian: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foi/story/0,,1998096,00.html & http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foi/story/0,,2061414,00.html).

One Response to “Today’s vote to make MPs unaccountable”

  1. warriornickodemus says:

    Signed your petition Barry.

    “a report on taxi fares in whitehall” was classified as an offical secret during the second world war and 50 years later was re-classified for another 50 years I believe.

    Obviously the panic and alarm the public would experience if they had proof “Winnie” and his mates fiddled their travel expenses justifies this secrecy.

    Proof positive that governments have always been good at hiding their wrongdoings and that FOI or not it is not going to change.

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