Government Information — 13 Jan 1999
That this House deplores the extent to which politically-partisan presentation, spin-doctoring, unattributed briefing and the pursuit of personal rivalries between Ministers have become characteristics of the presentation of government information; believes that clearer guidelines need to be established in this field; affirms that the public interest is in having far greater access to the information used by Government in making decisions which affect people's lives; and calls upon the Government to introduce its draft Freedom of Information Bill as a matter of the highest priority to enable early consideration, to present such a Bill later this Session which can be carried over into the next Session of Parliament, and to ensure that the Bill fully reflects the proposals set out in the White Paper, Your Right To Know .
find themselves out if they do not take action."--[ Official Report , 24 April 1998; Vol. 310, c. 1152.]
I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
"welcomes the Government's commitment to modernising Government; commends the professionalism of the Government Information and Communications Service (GICS) in carrying out the important task of effectively communicating and explaining policies, decisions and actions of the Government of the day; recognises that the Mountfield Report set out the future direction of the GICS and confirmed the long accepted conventions of impartiality and propriety; believes that the model contract for special advisers, which defined, for the first time in a public document, the roles and responsibilities of special advisers, should be welcomed; applauds the Government's intention to publish a draft Freedom of Information Bill as soon as possible; and welcomes the intention of the Select Committee on Public Administration to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill."
That is exactly the point that I made to the hon. Member for Cannock Chase: the Government cannot expect to pull all their levers as far they will go on every occasion. It would be wrong to do so.
Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--
The House divided: Ayes 42, Noes 331.
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