Mark Leftly: A case of gridlock coming up for Freedom of Information

 

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The Independent Online

Westminster Outlook The justice minister Simon Hughes wants to extend Freedom of Information laws to include companies that are in effect monopolies and provide public services. National Grid, which owns and runs the electricity-transmission network in England and Wales, is the obvious example.

We should know more about the companies that run our country and Mr Hughes should be applauded for at least floating this idea.

But it’s not plausible. Sticking with the National Grid example, this is a FTSE 100 company whose shares are sensitive to the slightest bit of gossip or new information.

The group’s lawyers will inevitably claim commercial confidentiality in most FoI requests. Any appeals will get caught up in an even greater myriad of obfuscation and red tape that so undermines the system across Whitehall.

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