“Abysmal Decision” by MPs

There was a vote in the House of Commons last Friday to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act. This was pushed forward by a group of Labour and Tory MPs, despite the best efforts of Lib Dem MPs to stop them.

If this proposal if finally made law, then information about such things as MPs’ expenses claims will become confidential.

A lot of the ‘right-wing’ newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, have roundly criticised what’s happened. They are angry with the Labour and Tory MPs who are trying to cover things up, and they have been praising the Lib Dem MPs. This is what the Daily Telegraph had to say :

On Friday, MPs opted… to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act. Acting in a way uncomfortably reminiscent of Communist officials in East Germany, they confirmed that members of the House of Commons believe that there should be one law for them, and another for everyone else.

There is no reason whatever for the MPs’ abysmal decision to try to keep information from the people to whom they are responsible: us. The arguments that have been offered are wholly spurious. David Maclean, the former Conservative whip who introduced the measure as a Private Members’ Bill, has claimed it is essential to keep “information in MPs’ correspondence about constituents confidential”.

But the Freedom of Information Act already contains exemptions that cover such information, and there is no duty to disclose it. To say that it might still be disclosed “by mistake” is to provide no argument at all for the new legislation.

The Daily Telegraph has produced a list of which 18 Tory MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, and we were interested to see that our MP for Rochford and Southend East James Duddridge was one of them.

Perhaps Mr Duddridge would like to leave a comment here and justify his vote!

  • There seems to be something slightly sinister developing within Government. The latest proposal / initiative to have local authority workers report what are effectively only misdemeanours and not crimes, to the authority so that they can be put on file starts to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Does this include Councillors, reporting and reported or will it be run by an unelected quango?

    Someone on the Have Your Say website actually called Labour MP’s apparatchiks today.

    Certainly I am just feeling something like the edge of fear as some Local Authorities change over from serving the local Community to a Govt enforcement brigade. They appear to be developing into a sort of Taliban over administrative matters like dustbins, parking, and with imposition of heavy fines where an admonition would do and now road charging.

    The last very strange because even the optimistic predictions indicate that oil depletion will cause fuel charges to treble in the next twelve years and traffic flow (and flights) will drop by at least 30%. MY prediction is that within 25 years only businesses (and Govt. Ministers) will afford to run vehicles and that London will only have power and water part of every day (it may be flooded as well).

    It seems to be only the House of Lords that is saving us from becoming a dictatorship in all but name. You may not remember but I was always very keen on a massive expansion of the Freedom of Information Act as a means of restoring confidence in Democracy, indeed restoring Democracy. I have always wanted that to be a major Lib Dem. policy at the next election, I think it would at least double our vote because people are getting very restless, very fed up with the way the Commons is no longer representative. I believe it has got so bad that I would question the right of the Commons to be the deciding voice in Parliament.

    I am not sure if it is good thing to be retired and have time to analyse the News but I am sure you will feel cheered up by all that.