Clause 1

Part of Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 7th February 2007.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham 11:00 am, 7th February 2007

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. We all know that lawyers like to look after themselves; the Law Society has come up with its own code of conduct, over which we have had no scrutiny, for dealing with our correspondence. If the Law Society has done that, how may other public bodies, which are exempt under the Act, interpret it in a way that allows our correspondence freely to be passed to a third party, when we perhaps would not want that to happen?

I accept the headline-grabbing nature of the Bill, given what we are trying to protect, but it relates to serious issues of confidentiality of information, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East has highlighted with reference to constituency cases. We have to make it clear that if we correspond with public bodies such as the Law Society, our correspondence must be protected. If we want to release it personally and we allow it, that is fine. We should not, however, have public bodies interpreting the Act as they want and saying to us that we can appeal, but that ultimately we have no right to protect confidential correspondence relating to our constituents. For those reasons, I commend the Bill.