Mark Hunter MP slams attempt to remove Parliament from freedom of information legislation

April 25, 2007 5:02 PM
Freedom of Information

Mark speaks out against FOI exemption for MPs

Mark Hunter, MP for Cheadle has today spoken out against The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill, an attempt to remove Parliament from the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and create a new exemption under the Act for all communications between MPs and public authorities.

The Bill, which has been introduced by Tory MP David Maclean, was successfully filibustered last week by the Lib Dem Shadow Secretary for the Department of Constitutional Affairs, Simon Hughes MP and Lib Dem backbencher, Norman Baker MP but is set to return to the House of Commons this Friday to complete its Report Stage proceedings.

Mr Maclean has tried to justify the Bill by claiming that it is designed to protect MPs' constituency correspondence from potential disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act despite the fact that correspondence containing personal data is already protected both under the Act's existing exemptions and Data Protection legislation.

Commenting on the Bill, Mark Hunter said:

"It is utter hypocrisy for Parliament to exempt itself from a law that it itself has passed. Constituents' personal data is already protected from release by Data Protection legislation and it is quite clear that the real reason for this Bill is to shield Parliament from public scrutiny.

"What is even more worrying is that, by not objecting to this Bill, the Government appear to be complicit in this manoeuvre to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act which suggests that they want to weaken their own legislation.

"Freedom of Information is vital to a modern, democratic society which is why my colleagues and I in the Liberal Democrats are working to stop this regressive Bill being passed."

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