The Times leads with an excellent piece on the freedom of information. According to the paper; less than two years into its life, ministers seem to have taken fright. The Government is seeking to make changes to the [FOI] Act which are ostensibly about saving money but which will have the effect of making it much easier for ministers to save face by dodging difficult questions.

One in five requests are being personally considered by ministers. This is a fairly staggering statistic and seems to be symbolic of the growing levels of distrust in government. At a time of political uncertainty few ministers, it seems, will allow their departments to judge what information can and cannot be released. But the Act already allows public bodies wide-ranging powers to dismiss vexatious requests and the 10 million in savings the Lord Chancellor expects to make seems rather a small amount. So if cost is not an issue what is?

As The Times argues, There could be no better indication of just how the secrecy culture is embedded in Whitehall than the spectacle of the Attorney General, at the behest of the police, attempting to ban the media not only from reporting new revelations in the cash-for-honours inquiry, but reporting the existence of the ban. Whitehall prefers to operate in the dark; but citizens deserve daylight.

New Comment