Discovering fresh details of the Speaker’s travel and accommodation costs would never have been possible but for the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.
Even with the legislation in place, it has been a long battle to learn that his chauffeur-driven lift up the road left the taxpayer £172 worse off.
A landmark Court of Appeal judgement three years ago ruled that copies of original documents should be released under FoI – and not just a summary of the information they contained.
Supporters of FoI argue that such material should be in the public domain because it relates directly to the expenditure of taxpayers’ money and the conduct of public officials.
Sceptics have included the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the expenses watchdog, which had resisted the move on the grounds of the huge cost of compiling and releasing the paperwork.
But such FoI requests could be curtailed following a new review of the Act, announced by ministers last week. There are fears that the commission re-examining the legislation will recommend tighter controls. The result could be a veil drawn over lavish spending by our elected representatives.
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