Cabinet eases stand on secrecy

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The Independent Online
THE MINISTER responsible for ensuring more 'open' government has broken down considerable Cabinet and Whitehall resistance to proposals on freedom of information to be announced in a White Paper this week, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

William Waldegrave, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has the support of John Major and Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, for the changes contained in the paper, expected to be published on Thursday.

The paper will cover rules to make more information available about the background to many Whitehall decisions, together with a new system to ensure the rules are kept. The paper is expected to propose the creation of a watchdog, possibly in the nature of an ombudsman, to monitor compliance.

Changes giving greater access to medical records held by doctors and hospitals are also understood to be included, following negotiations with the Department of Health.