Information Law

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at on 6 February 2019.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

What assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of the Information Commissioner’s January 2019 report, “Outsourcing oversight? The case for reforming access to information law”.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

The Government are fully committed to transparency and openness across the public sector and have already introduced a range of measures to increase transparency in contracts. That means that we are publishing more data than ever before to the benefit of taxpayers. I am grateful for the Information Commissioner’s report, which we will consider carefully, but we have no plans at present to legislate further in this area.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply but, as the Information Commissioner tells us, the Government spend £284 billion a year on external suppliers that are currently beyond the scope of freedom of information laws. The Information Commissioner tells us that that would have made a difference at both Grenfell and Carillion, so why will the Government not commit to real transparency and adopt the Information Commissioner’s recommendations?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster set out an important package of measures last year to improve transparency in contracting. However, I do not think there is evidence that the collapse of Carillion could have been anticipated by the reforms in the report. Indeed, the relevant Select Committees said that Carillion’s directors were responsible, not the Government.