Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:48 am on 22nd July 2008.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of Opposition In the House of Lords, Parliament 11:48 am, 22nd July 2008

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for bringing this matter to the attention of the House and proposing that the order be agreed. It brings to an end, I hope, the most unsatisfactory and unedifying spectacle of a deep disagreement between the authorities of another place and the Information Commissioner on the publication of private addresses of Members of another place and, I suppose by extension, those of your Lordships. From that point of view, the order is very much to be welcomed for the reasons that the noble Baroness has outlined, particularly in view of many of the security aspects affecting Members of both Houses.

Will the noble Baroness confirm that the order extends equally to all Members of this House as well as to those of another place? The noble Baroness has said that it extends to Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. For information, will the noble Baroness tell us the position for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament? They are clearly excluded from these provisions. Do they have their own arrangements or are they planning on doing something else? There is no need for the noble Baroness to give me an answer today, but perhaps she could write to me and let me know.

Finally, this order has raised the fact that issues in the Freedom of Information Act need clarifying. It is not that anybody is trying to hide information from greater public scrutiny, but this has raised all sorts of questions about the nature of the information requested, by whom it is requested and the use to which it is put. Have the Government plans to review the working of the Freedom of Information Act to see whether any changes should be made in the foreseeable future?