Freedom of Information Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Labour 10:15 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, I rise to support my noble and learned friend in this amendment. I am bemused by what the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said because I did not really understand it. However, I understand that he must say something and I believe that that is the explanation: he must say something under these circumstances and that is what he chose to say. Perhaps later he could explain to me what he said in relation to it not mattering. It seems to me that this part of the Bill matters enormously. I believe that the words,

"the reasonable opinion of a qualified person ... would be likely ... to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs", are most important.

The Bill appears to place no limit on the matters that can be caught by this exemption. Therefore, I understand that, by giving legal weight to a Minister's opinion, the decision is then protected from review by the commissioner. I hope that I am wrong in that and that someone will correct me.