A new plea to editors to write urgently to local MPs and members of the House of Lords “making a lot of noise” about the Freedom of Information Bill has come from the Society of Editors.
The organisation’s director, Bob Satchwell, was speaking after news broke that an agreement over the bill had apparently been reached between the Government and the Liberal Democrats.
The Campaign for Freedom of Information has said it understands that in return for modest concessions on four amendments (which are helpful but of mainly secondary importance), the Liberal Democrats will support the Government during the bill’s remaining stages. The CFoI believes this implies that the Lib Dems will not support further moves to improve the bill. If this proves the case, the continued efforts of Labour, Conservative and Crossbench peers are unlikely to succeed.
Mr Satchwell said: “If this happens, once again politicians will have let the public down. The deep embarrassment caused to the last government by secrecy surrounding BSE should have been a lesson.
“Editors should write urgently to local MPs and members of the House of Lords making a lot of noise. They should not be allowed to get away with this second-rate bill without the public knowing that despite so many fines words from Labour and the Lib Dems about FoI over a lot of years, when it comes down to legislation the veil of secrecy will remain in place.
“When will they learn? This is not about the media. Secrecy is not only bad for the public, it always trips up governments in the long run.”
The Lords Report Stage of the Freedom of Information Bill was taking place yesterday (Tuesday) and today.
Read more about the Society of Editors’ campaign at www.ukeditors.com and click on the left hand link to “FoI”
A new briefing has been added to the CfoI website. To read it click here
To read amendments tabled for this stage of the bill click here
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