Freedom of Information Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office 10:00 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, we believe that it is right that they should be in that position. The effect of the definition as drafted is to ensure that there is no ambiguity about whether these bodies are included within the provisions of Clauses 34 and 52. They are clearly bodies exercising statutory functions on behalf of the Crown: that is the key point.

It is not clear to us that by amending the definition as proposed would in practice limit the definition in the way intended by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay. However, removing that part of the definition would remove the certainty we believe to be necessary if the public and the bodies themselves are to be clear exactly when and how the freedom of information will apply.

To put it simply, we believe that these amendments are wrong in principle and would prove ineffective in practice. The noble Lord may not like, or perhaps not even accept, our interpretation of this or the principles behind it, but that is how it is, and I invite him to withdraw the amendment.