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Controversial FOI bill fails to win support in House of Lords

A controversial private members’ bill to exempt MPs and peers from freedom of information laws has failed to win the support of a single member of the House of Lords.

Tory former chief whip David Maclean’s Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill needed a peer to come forward to sponsor it by 5pm last night, but the support was not forthcoming.

Opponents have hailed the news as a triumph for democracy.

Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Lord McNally, said it was now unlikely that the bill would ever reach the Statute Book.

He said: “We are happy that this bill will not become law. It speaks volumes that no member of the House of Lords was prepared to support this legislation.”

Supporters of the bill had said it would protect the confidentiality of correspondence between constituents and MPs, but it was feared that its real aim was to stop embarrassing disclosures about MPs’ expenses and allowances.

  • On Tuesday Tom Brake MP introduced the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (No2) Bill in the House of Commons under the Ten Minute Rule. It calls for the removal of ministers’ powers to veto decisions of the information commissioner and for a limit on the time by which public authorities can extend their 20 day limit for replies involving considering the public interest.