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Local Audit and Accountability Bill [Lords] (28 Oct 2013)
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[h=2][/h] [INDENT] [h=1]Local Audit and Accountability Bill [Lords] (28 Oct 2013)[/h]



"The cabinet system means that all major decisions in my area are made in part 2 of the cabinet agenda—that means in confidence and in secrecy. As an officer in the past, I have advised on what should be in part 2 and what should be in part 1 and in public.

Decisions which I considered in the past should be made in open committee and information upon which those decisions are made are almost inevitably put in part 2 in Hillingdon—the confidential part of a cabinet meeting. I want to see a provision in the Bill which restricts the ability of members to avoid accountability by putting decision making into the secret part of cabinet agendas."

"I shall give a couple of examples to show how ludicrous the practice has become. For the building of a new school in my area, a matter which I have raised in the House before, a consultant was employed to examine which site the school should be built on. It was controversial because the council wanted eventually to build on a country park—a green-belt field about which even the Mayor of London expressed his concerns.

"The consultant’s report on which sites were examined, all in council ownership, was put in part 2 of the cabinet agenda—the secret part. Even freedom of information requests were refused on the grounds of Commercial Confidentiality."

"Let me give another example. On the same site there was a recent archaeological find of flints. The report from the archaeologist who discovered the flints was put into part 2 [the secret part] of the cabinet agenda on the basis of commercial confidentiality. It might have been commercially confidential 6,000 years ago, but not now. Eventually both reports were released, but not in a timely fashion."
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