21 May 2007

On Friday MPs shamefully voted for a bill that exempts them from the Freedom of Information Act. I do not believe this is only about reasonably protecting correspondence from constituents – there are other ways of doing that than this bill – but it is also about ultimately shutting off further information about their finances and those of the houses of parliament. Anything an MP writes to a minister will also be secret. The vote comes after a two-year losing resistance against releasing more detailed information about MP expenses. It is a damaging vote against transparency in administration.

One Cornwall MP voted (it was Friday when most MPs reasonably return to their constituencies for the weekend). To her vast credit Julia Goldsworthy, the Liberal Democrat MP for Falmouth and Camborne, voted against the exemption. She should be acclaimed.

Mark Fisher, a Labour MP, said the bill would bring the House of Commons into derision, contempt, and discredit.