What a surprise – MPs want an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. Conservative party MP David MacLean is trying to quietly pass such a bill through (via Unity). So far only the Guardian seems to have noticed this:
A bill to exempt MPs from inquiries made under the Freedom of Information Act was sneaked through the Commons last Friday without any debate. On the day Westminster was convulsed by the revelations surrounding the dawn arrest of Ruth Turner, the senior Downing Street aide, in the cash-for-honours investigation, MPs approved on the nod the second reading of a bill to exclude parliament from the Freedom of Information Act.
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, who last month won a decision at the information tribunal forcing the disclosure of more details of MPs’ travel expenses, said last night: ” This proposal is outrageous. What particularly amazes me is that everyone knows government whips can easily object to a private member’s bill and stop it going anywhere. In this case the government whips were silent, which I can only assume means they are secretly sympathetic to this proposal as it fits in with their plans to curb the Freedom of Information Act.”
Suffice to say MPs should not be allowed to escape FoI inquiries. Index on Censorship magazine has published a strong letter against this, with support from English PEN and Article 19.
The bill now seeks to put MPs beyond the reach of the Act, when surely they should be the most accountable individuals in the UK. In addition, it proposes that Parliament as a whole, the most important of all our public institutions, be exempted from the Act.
This would put the UK out of step even with the newest and most fragile European democracies, such as Bosnia and Serbia, who have recently legislated to open up their parliaments to public scrutiny.
Wtf? Why isn’t more noise being made about this? Unity reckons bloggers should be making a fuss over this and I agree.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Party politics