A controversial bill seeking to exempt members of parliament from the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act will be heard again this Friday. The proposal was the subject of a five-hour filibuster in Parliament last week. Proposed by Conservative MP and former whip David Maclean, the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill is at the …
100% leakproof information
"It should quite clearly be protected under the current Act. However, inadvertently, someone may release it,"
And of course if this bill gets through that would obviously remove any possibility of the information inadvertently getting out. I'm trying desperately not to mention David Kelly.
"Clearly if one writes to a public authority and gives the personal details of a constituent, such as their CSA [Child Support Agency] claim, information relating to their children and so on, that information should be protected. It should quite clearly be protected under the current Act. However, inadvertently, someone may release it,"
Surely personal information passed to the MP (and then subsequently passed on to others) is covered by the Data Protection Act.
Saying that MPs should be excluded from FOI legislation because a third party might make a mistake is really taking the piss isn't it?
I assume David Maclean has got rather a lot of skeletons in his cupboard that he'd rather people didn't find out about....
Why is it all or nothing
MPs don't need TOTAL exemption in order to prevent having to disclose conversations with their constituents.
What's needed is to recognise that there are SOME circumstances which should be exempt, and make the circumstances exempt instead of specific people.
But the chances are that if an exemption is needed due to particular circumstances, that exemption should properly apply when those circumstances arise, and whether or not a MP is involved is entirely irrelevant.
So, MPs don't need global exemption but there may be merit in making an exception or two that applies to everybody.