OUTLOOK: Full disclosure

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The Independent Online
THE TREASURY yesterday made its first disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act, and pretty unenlightening they were too. There were apparently six candidates for Governor of the Bank of England when the job last came up for grabs, though we are not allowed to know who. The Treasury was none the less worried by how the eurosceptic and hawkish tendencies of the person eventually chosen, Mervyn King, might play with the press.

Even more revealing was the answer to the question about how the Treasury interprets the golden rule, which was to draw the enquirer's attention to the relevant paragraph in successive Budget Red Books. Our own inquiries of Government, here on The Independent's business desk, have so far met with similar platitudes or stonewalling.

On one we are told the answer would cost too much to produce, on another that the information is exempt, and on yet another that it will take more time to determine whether publication is in the public interest. If, on the other hand, you would like anything that reflects badly on the last Tory government, then there's absolutely tons of stuff they can give you.

Still, there is at least one consolation - the certain knowledge that hundreds of civil service man hours are being used up deciding how not to answer our questions. What a farce.

jeremy.warner@independent.co.uk

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