MP: FoI amends should be for everyone

Lord Falconer’s former private secretary believes that Parliament should not try and exempt itself from the Freedom of Information Act unless the whole law is changed.

Martin Linton, MP for Battersea, Wandsworth and Clapham and a former journalist, quit as parliamentary private secretary to the justice minister over his opposition to the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill.

He submitted an EDM last week calling for the bill to be thrown out. Members of the Government are not allowed to vote against or ask Parliamentary questions about governmentsupported bills, and Linton felt he had to step down so he could have his say.

He said: ‘I just think that we should not be trying to keep the House of Commons out of the FoI Act when every other public body is inside it. I’m not against making amendments to the FoI Act, I just think they should be made for everybody.”

Linton, who in a long journalistic career worked for the Daily Mail, Daily Star and The Guardian, said the act was an important tool for journalists – but stopped short of criticising the Government’s proposals to limit journalists’ requests.

‘The act is intended to give the public access to as much information about government as possible,’he said. ‘But it shouldn’t give journalists any special favours. There is aline to be drawn against government secrecy, but there is also a line against time-wasting questions.”

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