Hansard 19 Jan 2007 : Column 1115
Remaining Private Members’ Bills
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Order for Second Reading read.
Bill read a Second Time, and committed to a Public Bill Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills).
It took until Burns Day, Thursday January 25th for the press -
in the shape of the Guradian's Westminster correspondent David Henceck to realise how David Maclean, (another bloody Scot) the former Tory chief whip's , private member's bill had sneaked through on the nod.
The the brief two-clause bill is passed it removes both Houses of Parliament as public authorities obliged to release information under the act from any obkigation to do so. It also protects all MPs' correspondence from release and stops authorities even being able to confirm or deny whether they have received a letter from an MP.
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, who celebrated a win at the information tribunal recently forcing the disclosure of more details of MPs' travel expenses, said to the Guradian.
" 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."
The Index on Censorship writes about the BIll and highlights that not only us the UK Gubment out of step but marching inthe wring direction.
"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. "
You are invited to write to your MP because ...
If the bill becomes law, an absurd specatcle will result where all correspondence on matters of public policy - say, a hospital closure, a PFI venture, a proposed wind farm - will be available under the Act - except for MPs’ correspondence. The most directly accountable public figures in the country will enjoy a protection denied to their constituents, other Gubment bodies, commercial firms and their representatives, charities, Trade Unions ......
That was the day of course when everybody got excited, and the Press diverted because the Rochdale Labour Party selected Mr Simon Danczuk, from 30 candidates on a 78% turnout. Previously campaign manager for Rossendale MP Janet Anderson at the 2005 general election,member of Labour’s North West regional board and GMB union member for 20 years.
He also founded The Big Issue North West and in 1999 he co-founded Vision Twentyone, a Manchester-based agency which carries out social and political research with not-for-profit sector, including councils, trade unions, Government Departments, and regeneration bodies with winsome, pert and pretty Ruth Turner who also was mentioned in the Press that day.
You can contact Simon at email@example.com, or on 0161 200 8000