The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.


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Friday, March 23, 2007

The Limitation of Information Act


Well, well, well...

One of the counter arguments we've continually had thrown against "The Misrepresentation of the People Act" is that despite a lack of formal, legal accountability for MPs there are two extremely powerful measures already in place to hold our elected representatives and Government to account.

1) the so-called "Fourth Estate" - The Press/media.

2) the Freedom of Information Act.

Despite charming the pants off us in our interview with him, the Lord Chancellor was keen to emphasise both of these. So we were suprised to hear him at the Lord Williams of Mostyn memorial lecture give the following argument on why the rules governing the Freedom of Information Act need tightening ;

"The Government approaches openness on the basis of improving how government operates, for the benefit of the public. Many sections of the press do not approach it in that way. Instead, many approach it on the basis of what gives them most information exclusive to their journalistic outlet.... The job of the Government is not to provide page leads for the papers, but information for the citizen. Freedom of information was never considered to be, and for our part will never be considered to be, a research arm for the media.... People, not the press, must be the priority. There is a right to know, not a right to tell"
So the problem with News organisations is that they tell people what they've found out from an FOI request.

Perhaps they'd be better off simply ammending the Act to allow you to make a request so long as you don't tell anybody the results.

At least that would have stopped us knowing about the 13 meetings Lord Falconer had with the AEG/Anschutz mob about the millenium dome/super-casino.

P.S. The Independent points out government commissioned research showed journalists account for about 16 per cent of the total costs of central government FOI requests - at a cost of around £4m. If the problem was a purely financial one - couldn't you simply charge the media for their requests ?

9 comments:

  1. staggering. i always thought he was a fat deceitful bastard.

    who was THAT bird by the way?

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  2. Very pissed off23 Mar 2007, 11:36:00

    Outrageous - makes my blood boil. £4m is a bowl of soup compared to something like ID cards. Bet if you had a referendum to choose between spending our money on FOI requests v. ID cards, Trident etc. it would even be close.

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  3. very pissed off I totally agree, FOI should be one of the backbones of an open democracy and would benefit the government no end if they weren't so afraid of it. Makes you wonder what they have to hide doesn't it.

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  4. It certainly does...fat deceitful bastards.

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  5. not particularly intelligent discussion is it ezra?

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  6. Blah, blah, blah23 Mar 2007, 16:40:00

    So let's say they've got something to hide.

    Let's say we get a decent FOI act,
    Let's say we expose them as liars etc.

    Then what ? Vote in the next bunch ?

    The problem is, anyone who wants to go into politics ends up making mistakes and trying to cover their own arses so they can stay in power - why wouldn't you ? If you get into politics you do it 'cos you think you've got the right answers and can make a difference. Once you believe that - you can justify almost anything to stay in power.

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  7. Why not just make an FOI request, promise you won't tell anyone but cross your fingers at the same time !

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  8. Joseph (that's not a Jewish forename) Goebels23 Mar 2007, 17:08:00

    I’m afraid I’m with the government on this one.

    It must be extremely irritating to draft a piece of legislation as noble as the Freedom of Information Act, imagining it’ll be of great importance/use to the public at large (owners of tea rooms in Dorset, sellers of the Big Issue, single parents etc.) only to have it hijacked by newspapers and broadcasters.

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  9. Is it me or does it look like Lord Falconer's been caught by the photographer in the middle of a cheeky little bottom burp ?

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