Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ministerial correspondence relating to council tax in the financial year 1991-2

The HM Treasury disclosure log is one of the most interesting disclosure logs to browse from a historical point of view and there are often many disclosures that are of great interest in offering new perspectives on events we may now regard as history. The end of the Thatcher regime, the Poll tax riots and the replacement of the Poll tax with the Council tax is given a new perspective in this disclosure recently added to the Treasury's log, covering Ministerial correspondence relating to council tax in the financial year 1991-2. The files are available chronologically and clearly illustrate the debate about how to reform the Poll tax including detailed correspondence between ministers and the Prime Minister. Issues discussed inlcuded treatment of Farmers and the Clergy, higher bills in the South, effect on second homes in Wales. The information also has revalance in today's political environment as the Council Tax is currently under pressure as unfair (see debate on wikipedia).

There is also an issue about these types of FOI disclosures - these previously would have been made by the National Archives under 30 year rule pre FOIA - however these types of releases are now being made by Depts under FOIA and are being placed on disclosure logs but many depts may simply remove these releases from their logs over time and the publication of this historical information may be fleeting. I would argue for an ammendment of the FOIA to mandate disclosure logs as in many cases information relating to important historical disclosures could be lost or unavailable to the public.

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