Friday, May 02, 2008

Policy advice released after months not decades

This article by Maurice Frankel appeared in Press Gazette on 2 May 2008
In the past, officials' advice to ministers, and the discussions leading to it, have been confidential. You could see it after 30 years, but not before. The Freedom of Information Act has shattered that convention.

Whitehall argues that officials need to be able to tell ministers, in private, what is wrong with their proposals. If their advice is disclosed and used against ministers, civil servants may pull their punches. Policies will not be properly scrutinised.

But the Information Tribunal has rejected the view that all such discussions need decades of secrecy. It has ordered disclosure of some material after only months. Despite two High Court challenges, the government has failed to overturn its approach.
Read the full article.

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