In a move preparing the ground for an assault on the public’s information rightsa survey conducted by the Ministry of Justice has revealed significant opposition to Freedom of Information legislation from Whitehall civil servants. Apparently Sir Humphrey doesn’t thinks plebians should pay money to access information “like expenses, crime statistics and so on”.

Could transparency be going the same way as much-publicised claims of being the “greenest government ever”? Compare and contrast moves against FOI with this from cabinet office minister Francis Maude, in October 2010:

“Tony Blair bizarrely revealed that his biggest regret in office was introducing the Freedom of Information Act. If I ever sit down to write my own memoirs, freeing up government information will not number amongst my regrets. In fact, I very much hope that it will be one of my very proudest achievements.”

 And again in The Guardian in November 2010:

“The UK government is now the world’s most open administration, but our ambition stretches far further. We are starting to transform the access British people have to the information that matters to them. It may lead to difficult questions – but more importantly it will lead to better decisions and better government.”

If it weren’t for freedom of information, we would still be paying for Douglas Hogg’s moat to be cleaned.

  1. So can Francis Maude please have a word with Lansley and Cameron about getting the NHS Risk Register published. Maybe it would lead to better decisions and better government.

  2. Transparency is the one thing that will take away civil servants control over all governments. Too often Whitehall manouvres inept colleagues into top positions within any department at will. All with large pension entitlements and unearned bonuses – a curse on ‘good government’.

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