England reverting to 1960s-style secrecy

An interesting interview with the Scottish Information Commissioner published in today’s Sunday Herald. He mirrors my own thinking that FOI is going backwards not forwards in England with the Government’s efforts all focused on exempting MPs, nationalised banks and Cabinet from FOI and direct accountability to the people.

“Down south, the indications are that’s far from the government’s agenda. It’s more concerned with amending FoI, to make sure it doesn’t apply to things like Northern Rock and to use the veto to stop the release of Cabinet minutes.

“Those are all really negative indicators from down south, which at the moment we don’t seem to have any parallel for in Scotland.”

Last month, Jack Straw, the UK secretary of state, issued the first ministerial veto under English FoI law in order to block the of release the Iraq war Cabinet minutes. The English information commissioner had ruled they were of such public interest they should be released, as did the Information Tribunal, to which the government initially appealed.

But Straw said cabinet ministers had a right to private discussions. “The use by Jack Straw of the veto should not be at all downplayed,” said Dunion. “It is a nuclear option for a minister to press the button on using the veto and overriding not just the information commissioner, but the Information Tribunal.

“We are now getting clear signals that English legislation may be amended so that Cabinet minutes become absolutely exempt. That is quite a departure from progressive thinking in FoI. That’s going back to 1960s, 1970s thinking.”

2 Responses to “England reverting to 1960s-style secrecy”

  1. John L Bell says:

    How canny the scots are!
    Just a few keywords politely left out of their view of the attempts by crooked MPs to conceal
    their actions…. words like ‘theft’, ‘fraud’, ‘misappropriation of public funds’,
    ‘aiding and abetting’

    At least the tagline;

    ‘Citizens burn while MPs fiddle!’

    may not apply north of the border!

  2. JPFife says:

    The fiddling is just as bad here in Scotland, John L Bell, it’s just that we know what they’re up to while in England they’re trying to ensure the people don’t know!

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