Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 12:59 pm, 4th December 2018

I agree with my hon. Friend that the House needs to exercise some caution, and I wish to explain precisely why.

The issue we are debating today is the Government’s duty to protect Law Officers’ advice in the national interest. The House has previously recognised the importance of the principle that information cannot always be disclosed. This is always guided by the need to protect the broader public interest. This is directly reflected in the Freedom of Information Act 2000, brought in under a Labour Government, which sets out a careful scheme for balancing the twin imperatives of transparency on the one hand, and of safeguarding the public interest on the other. The consequences of not following those principles are obvious. The House might request, by way of a Humble Address, information that could compromise national security or which might put the lives of our troops in danger.