Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FOI (Amendment) Bill - adjourned until Friday

David Maclean's Private Members' Bill was blocked ('talked out') on the House of Commons on Friday, by opponents of the bill who made lengthy speeches, preventing the final vote being taken. However, the debate will resume this Friday (27 April).

At the moment it looks like the Bill will be the first item on the agenda again, as bills at report take precedence over those at earlier stages, but this could change depending on the progress of other bills in committee. If the Bill is first, it will have a further five hours for debate.

The main MPs who blocked the bill last week, were Norman Baker (Lib Dem), Simon Hughes (Lib Dem), Richard Shepherd (Con) and David Winnick (Lab).

David Maclean did not speak other than to ask the House to reject amendments that were moved by the Bill's opponents. No other MP spoke in support of the Bill, although Henry Bellingham, Shadow Minister for Constitutional Affairs, said "Opposition Front-Benchers do not feel that the amendments do anything to improve what is a very modest, small Bill". The minister, Bridget Prentice, also studiously avoided taking any position on the Bill, saying that it was "up to hon. Members to decide whether they wish the Act to continue to cover the House authorities."

Read the full debate.

Press coverage:

MPs get another chance to exclude themselves from Freedom of Information - Daily Mail

Move to exempt MPs from FoI law to return - Times

Challenge to FoI returns due to Commons quirk - The Guardian

MP's bid to keep documents secret is rejected
- News and Star

MPs' info exemption bill revived - BBC

Baker plans Commons vigil to see of FOI exemption for MPs - Press Gazette


Norman Baker MP was interviewed on the Today Programme this morning about the Bill. Lord Falconer was also interviewed on the programme about the new Ministry of Justice. He was questioned about the Bill at the end of the interview. You can listen again to both interviews on the Radio 4 website.

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman was asked about the Bill at this morning's Press Briefing.

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