It’s uacceptable for our leaders to seek refuge from legislation designed to improve the accountability and transparancy of public bodies. Why should there be a special exemption for MPs and lords? Surely our highest public offices should be subject to the highest level of public scrutiny. This smacks of double-standards.
Between this bill and the current consultation on lowering the bar for rejecting FoI requests on grounds of cost, it seems the Government is running scared of it’s own legislation.
The contention that the proposed amendments are to safeguard the privacy of MPs’ constituents is specious at best: we have data protection laws for that, as well as an existing exemption in FoI, and a convincing argument that these are insufficient has yet to be presented.
Even if that were the case, the correct place to fix the problem would be in the Data Protection Act, not the Freedom of Informtion Act. FoI was never intended to protect the public, except in its role as a constitutional safeguard!
Today the Liberal Democrats launched a petition against the proposals. They are also encouraging you to write to a random Lord and express your displeasure (any lord will do – since they’re unelected they don’t have constituencies). If you decide to write, don’t forget to ask them to take action by voting to send this hypocritical law back to the commons with its tail between its legs.
Keep Parliament honest!