Freedom of Information

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 4 February 1998.

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Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Conservative, North Shropshire 1:40, 4 February 1998

What representations he has received on the freedom of information White Paper. [25361]

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

We have received more than 70 responses so far, and the overwhelming majority of them have welcomed the Government's proposals.

Photo of Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Conservative, North Shropshire

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend that, following legislation, there will be more or less freedom of information than exists in the United States of America?

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

It is clearly a very different system, and I am determined that we will not follow the American system of litigation in the form of appeal. The system that we have developed is designed for the Westminster model and for our political culture. I have been encouraged by the responses that I have received from overseas, almost all of which refer to this piece of legislation as belonging to the next generation of freedom of information Acts.

Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will be aware that his freedom of information White Paper and the radical proposals that it contains have been widely acclaimed. It may be one of the most important things that the Government will do. Has my right hon. Friend received any representations about the Millennium Experience Company? In the spirit of the freedom of information White Paper, should it now post interim accounts so that there may be greater transparency regarding how it is spending £750 million of public money?

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

It would not be appropriate for me to trespass on the millennium experience. However, the idea of continually releasing information is a good sign and a positive step towards freedom of information. Although I do not wish to anticipate a written question at 3.30 this afternoon, I can confirm that I hope to publish a background paper on the details that were given to the committee that drew up the White Paper, as I promised to do on an earlier occasion.