British MPs place themselves above the law

Updated on May 20, 2007 03:27 PM IST
It has been declared a shameful day for British Parliament as MPs placed themselves above the law by voting to exempt themselves from the FOI, reports Vijay Dutt.
HT Image
HT Image
None | ByVijay Dutt, London

It has been declared a shameful day for British Parliament as MPs placed themselves above the law by voting to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

This they had themselves had legislated and it gives the right to information. More outrage followed when it emerged that the approval in the House of Commons by 96 against 25 of the motion by the former Tory chief whip David Maclean to exempt parliament from the FOI included at least 20 ministers.

This backing by ministers was ironic as just a day before Gordon Brown, the prime minister-in-waiting, had declared that he would re-build trust in the government and make it more open and accountable. He has rejected calls to block the move and let MPs move closer to make the exemption a law.

His aides justified this by saying that "Gordon has also spoken about the sovereignty of Parliament. If MPs have voted this measure through then that is a matter for them". But, Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell asked Brown to show his commitment to FOI.

But that did not stop the critics calling the move a "squalid" bid to shroud Parliamentary expenses and allowances in secrecy, saying that it was "a dark day for democracy" and that the Government was in favour of the Private Member’s Bill and allowed it time to progress through Parliament. The frontbenchers on either side washed their hands off by saying they were neutral.

MPs justified the move saying it would prevent correspondence being revealed to constituents. Maclean claimed the move would prevent correspondence from falling into the hands of "criminals or the BNP".

Opponents claim that the FOI Act, introduced in 2005, already prevents the disclosure of confidential letters containing personal data.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • The logo of Swedish retailer Ikea (L). (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP)

    Ikea shoppers panic after security locks down store on Covid risk

    Health authorities in the financial hub said that they imposed “temporary control measures” at the store, after they found out that a close contact of a 6-year-old boy with an asymptomatic Covid infection had been there. They didn’t say when the close contact was in the store.

  • A Myanmar court convicted Suu Kyi in more corruption cases on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, adding six years to prison sentence. (File)

    Deposed Myanmar leader Suu Kyi sentenced to 6 more years in prison

    Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to six more years in prison on Monday in a judgment that could further anger supporters of the 77-year-old Nobel peace prize laureate. It's the fourth round of criminal verdicts against Suu Kyi since the military seized power in a 2021 coup and brings her total jail term to 17 years, extinguishing any chance of her staging a political comeback while the junta remain in power.

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard on a bridge in Kabul, Afghanistan, 

    On completion of one year in power, Taliban says, “This day is the day of…”

    The Taliban marked a year in power on Monday with small-scale celebrations by the group's fighters as Afghanistan struggles with rising poverty, drought, malnutrition and fading hope among women that they will have a decisive role in the country's future. "This day is the day of the victory of truth over falsehood and the day of salvation and freedom of the Afghan nation," said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.

  • Heavy rains set off flash floods in Afghanistan; 31 dead

    Heavy rains set off flash floods in Afghanistan; 31 dead

    Heavy rains set off flash floods that killed at least 31 people and left dozens missing in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban's state-run news agency reported Monday. The Bakhtar News Agency said the flooding took place on Sunday in northern Parwan province. The province is ringed by mountainous and more often witnesses floods from heavy rains. The local weather department said more rains were expected in the coming days in most of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

  • Indian-British author Salman Rushdie.

    Salman Rushdie's ‘feisty and defiant’ humour remains intact, says son

    Salman Rushdie is still in a critical condition, but his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact, his son has said, as the Mumbai-born author battles severe, life-changing injuries. Rushdie, 75, was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and could talk after he was stabbed on stage at a literary event in New York state on Friday.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, August 15, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now