The Financial Times story about Black Wednesday that has been causing all the fuss about the Freedom of Information Act finally came out today. Sterling withdrawl from European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 cost the British taxpayer £3.3 billion.
It sure didn’t take long for politicians to start running scared of Britain’s new disclosure law. Tonight the Evening Standard reports that the Freedom of Information Act may be amended:
Constitutional Affairs Secretary Lord Falconer said he wanted former ministers to be given new rights to appeal against documents released under the Act.
Former prime minister John Major also called for reform today, but urged that economic forecasts currently held secret by the Treasury should be made more open to the public. Lord Falconer—admitted that he was worried—that the Act was being used as a “political football” in the run-up to the general election.
He revealed he has written to Opposition Leader Michael Howard for consensus on reforms.
I’m not sure why using the FOIA as a “political football” is such a bad thing, as everybody seems to think these days.
The point of Freedom of Information is improved accountability, and if political parties — associations of politically-engaged citizens — want to hold their rivals to account over their past or current failures in government, this seems like a perfectly reasonable application of the law. Why this sort of use of the act should cease during elections is beyond me.