Health and Social Care Bill
Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General
Grahame Morris (Easington, Labour)
I have got out of my sick bed to be here today, because this is a vital debate, and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in it. I often feel that these debates are a bit like the siege of Stalingrad: we are rolling back the forces of oppression. I content myself, with my cough and sore throat, that at least the red army was victorious on that occasion.
In response to the point that Tony Baldry and Mr Dorrell, who chairs the Health Committee, made about the ruling by the Information Commissioner, I think we should reflect on the fact that it was indeed a ruling. It was not advice that he was giving. Mr Christopher Graham has some expertise in this field, and although the detailed reasons have not been published, the arguments that were made by my right hon. Friend John Healey and the co-applicants from the Evening Standard—that it was in the public interest to publish the risk register—were obviously accepted.
If I may, I would like to remind the House of what the Information Commissioner said, which was upheld on appeal. Mr Graham said:
“Disclosure would significantly aid public understanding of risks related to the proposed reforms and it would also inform participation in the debate about the reforms”.
Earlier on, Government Members were shouting “Frit!” at Labour Members. I really did not understand what that meant—I am just a simple working-class lad from Easington—but I now understand that it means “You’re afraid”. However, if the Government have complete confidence in the direction of their reforms, surely it is they who are afraid, because they should have the confidence to publish the document.