O’Donnell: FoI ‘safe house’ needed to protect quality of government

Former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell has told the House of Commons Justice Committee that a ‘safe house’ should be established where ministers can speak freely without fear of a Freedom of Information request.


By Civil Service World

28 Mar 2012

The committee was taking evidence yesterday during its post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Lord O’Donnell said: “No-one knows whether a piece of paper is actually going to be made public or not. We should allow a space where ministers can disagree with each other.” He added that FoI is deterring people from taking notes on meetings, which makes for “worse government”.

Joining O’Donnell for cross-examination was Professor the Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield. He argued that the Act has created a better--informed electorate, saying: “Could an elector cast an informed vote if he or she wanted to? Until the FoI Act, very probably not.”

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