Freedom of Information Act: The pursuit of transparency is leading to dishonesty and intrigue
‘You idiot. You naïve, foolish, irresponsible, nincompoop.” That is Tony Blair’s description of Tony Blair, on page 516 of his memoirs. Last month, the former home secretary, Jack Straw, published his memoirs, Last Man Standing. He, too, indulges in severe self-criticism. Mr Straw describes an Act which he (reluctantly) introduced as “showing the signs of its wholly inadequate conception and implementation”.
Both men are protesting against the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) which they brought in. They say that it is (Mr Blair’s words) “utterly undermining of sensible government”. Under FoI, a case was brought by The Guardian to force the disclosure of the Prince of Wales’s correspondence with ministers. This week, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, exercised his right to prevent publication. FoI groupies are outraged. The Guardian says it will seek judicial review. Read more.
Charles Moore | The Telegraph | 19th October 2012
Ben Wallace MP: politicians will suffer while Commons secrecy continues
Ever since being elected in 2005 I have campaigned for transparency and the reform of expenses. In 2007 I won the Spectator magazine’s award for campaigner of the year for my stance on the subject. Recently I raised no objection to the Freedom of information requests made for the release of information about my flat.
The background to the current furore is this: my family home is in Lancashire and that is where my children go to school. I must be in Westminster for four days each week and so like other MPs need somewhere to stay. I purchased the flat in question just before the housing price collapse and used my own capital to fund the deposit for the property. I did this on the understanding that I could claim mortgage interest which would be less costly to the taxpayer than renting a similar property. I never claimed taxpayers’ money for decorating. The risk of the purchase was all mine, not the taxpayer’s. Read more.
Ben Wallace | The Telegraph | 19th October 2012
Cumbria Police Taser Use Figures Revealed
TASERS have been deployed by police in Cumbria more than 100 times in the past 18 months.
The figures, revealed to the Evening Mail following a Freedom of Information request, showed that Tasers were deployed 139 times from March last year to August this year.
Thirty of these instances involved firing the Tasers.
The deployment figures include every use of the Taser from a “red dot” warning with a laser light to the devices being fired. Read more.
North West Evening Mail | 22nd October 2012