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Prince Charles’ secret bill-vetoing exposed

MPs sought Prince Charles’ consent for at least twelve bills brought before the House of Lords, the Guardian revealed last night.

Due to a constitutional loophole that gives the Prince of Wales the right to veto legislation that might impact his private interests, ministers from six departments sought his permission on bills since 2005.

A freedom of information request to the House of Commons has revealed that in the last two parliamentary sessions, Charles had been advised about bills relating to wreck removals and co-operative societies while prior to that he had a say on bills relating to economic development and construction, energy and planning, house and regeneration among others.

Both the government and the Clarence House refuse to reveal any amendments Charles imposed on the bills and his spokesman said communications between the prince or his house and the government are confidential.

As the Telegraph reports MPs and peers have called for a publication of those correspondence details to reveal the extent of Prince’s “meddling” in British politics.

The revelations follow Charles’ criticism for his direct lobbying of politicians through his charities.

Graham Smith, director of Republic, a campaign for an elected head of state pointed out that citizens have the right to know whether Charles was insisting on changes to the bills.

Also in the news:

Bank of England determinant to protect its secrecy through FoIA clause

The Bank of England is under heavy criticism by the Treasury Select Committee after its refusal to disclose details of its emergency meetings during Northern Rock’s financial meltdown in 2007.

The Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Independent report that Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP chairing the committee slammed Sir David Lees’ refusal to reveal the meetings’ minutes by taking advantage of a clause in the Freedom of Information act that excludes discussions over monetary policy from disclosure.

BoE has been the subject of extensive scrutiny following the Government’s decision to lodge broader powers in Threadneedle Street.

Met police invests in covert surveillance technology that might impinge on civil liberties

The Hertfordshire Constabulary was among the Met forces that paid for covert surveillance services, it emerged today after a FoIA request.

As the Guardian reports, the technology produced by the Leeds-based company Datong allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and collect data about thousands of users in a 3.9 sq miles area. Campaign group Big Brother Watch warns this technology raises serious civil liberties concerns.

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