Friday, 18 May 2007

You couldn't make it up.

Words really do fail me. Politicians wonder, with an apparent air of hurt bemused innocence why no one trusts them. Gordon brown talks absolute tosh about re-building trust.

Well the Tories don’t quite seem to have kicked old habits, as one of their backbenchers, David Maclean, has sponsored a private member’s bill that he claims is “necessary to give an absolute guarantee that the correspondence of members of parliament, on behalf of our constituents and others, to a public authority remains confidential “.

By a complete coincidence I am sure did not occur to him it also has the effect of exempting the Commons and House of Lords from the list of public authorities obliged to release information under the Freedom of Information Act and also – as a, no doubt, entirely unintended side effect – allow MPs to keep their expenses secret.

It has to be said support for the bill is not limited to the Tories by any means.

Gordon Brown has said he will not block secrecy bid has pledged to respect MPs' decisions. A spokesman for the chancellor said he had also promised not to dictate to MPs. Labour Backbenchers have also emailed colleagues to say they "feel strongly" that the bill's measures were "worthy of support".

Critics suggest that despite it’s apparently neutral stance, the government is in favour of the Bill and has ensured it has the time to progress through Parliament.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker plans to make a formal complaint to the Commons speaker after MPs voted for the bill, by 96 to 25, to give the bill a third reading.

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