Freedom Act leads to bad government, O'Donnell warns
Saturday 28 January 2012
The Freedom of Information Act risks forcing ministers and civil servants into a system of "oral government" in which important discussions are never written down, the former Cabinet Secretary Lord O'Donnell has warned.
The peer, who left his role as head of the Civil Service in December, said the fear of minutes eventually being published was "driving stuff underground or into non-FOI-able routes".
In an interview with BBC Radio 4's The Westminster Hour, Lord O'Donnell said the process would result in "worse public policy decisions". He repeated his call for the Act to be overhauled.
"You just don't know when you write something down whether that is eventually going to be decided by a tribunal of people who may have never worked in government whether or not that should be released," he said.
"If everybody thinks, well, that's all going to become public and that's going to be used against me, people will naturally say, OK, well perhaps I had just better keep quiet. And then you get to a situation where you have oral government."
Lord O'Donnell said a similar issue in the US led to the use of Post-it notes during discussions.
"They'd stick 'I disagree with this' on them. And then there were Freedom of Information requests for the Post-its," he said.
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...
£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...
£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...