link to briefings documents at

Magna Carta Plus News

back to index page
orientation to the news at

short briefing dcuments at

This page provides occasional items, linked to the original articles, as we attempt to keep up with the rapidly changing situation on civil liberties.
Archive of old news service:
2002 - 2004

1st Jan to 9th Sept 2005


David Cameron and Freedom of Information

Posted by James Hammerton @ 9:06 pm on 24 May, 2007.
Categories British politics, accountability, freedom of information.
Edit This Permalink to this article

After failing to turn up and vote (which Menzies Campbell, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown also failed to do) when the House of Commons voted for the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, David Cameron has instructed Tory peers to block the bill:

David Cameron has told Conservative peers to vote against a controversial
bill introduced by one of his own backbenchers which would exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act.

The Tory leader said he wanted to find a way to protect MPs correspondence but that he could not support the private members’ bill, pushed through the Commons last week by former Conservative chief whip David Maclean. “If it could be amended in such a way that we are happy with, we would
consider it, but at the moment, it is no go,” Mr Cameron said.

In my view, this is the correct approach. The bill as it stands will exempt Parliament from Freedom of Information Act(FoIA) and will also exempt all correspondence between MPs and public authorities. The ostensible concern behind the bill was to protect the correspondence MPs made on behalf of their constituents with public authorities. If the bill had been written simply to protect this correspondence, then it would be a reasonable amendment to our current FoIA legislation making it absolutely clear such correspondence is not to be released.

Such correspondence should already be protected by the Data Protection Act, and sections 40 and 41 of the FoIA, but some MPs have expressed concern that this existing protection isn’t working. A bill targetted at strengthening this protection is fine, though I suspect issuing better/simpler guidance on the matter to the relevant public authorities would also be a solution.

However, I don’t understand why a bill completely exempting Parliament and the totality of MPs’ correspondence with public authorities was proposed as the means of dealing with this problem.

Finally, David Maclean has proposed to amend the bill to make publication of MPs’ expenses mandatory. Welcome as this move is, it misses the point which is that Parliament should not have a blanket exemption from the FoIA.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


© magnacartaplus.org2008, 2007, 2006 [1 December]

variable words
prints as variable A4 pages (on my printer and set-up)

abstracts of documents on UK Acts of Parliament click for news from orientation to orientation button links to other relevant sites links

Powered by WordPress