Nanny, as we all know, believes in an open society; she believes that ordinary people should open up their private lives, and that their activities should be scrutinised by the state.
Now some of you may feel that this is a little one sided, and unfair; do not despair, Nanny has thought of that.
In January 2005 her new freedom of information laws will come into force. These laws will allow the ordinary citizen to inspect Nanny’s activities both past and present.
Now these new laws are very important, Nanny does not want their introduction and operation to be “messed up”. She therefore needed someone with impeccable credentials, someone who has the respect of his colleagues, the media and the public to handle their introduction and operation.
Nanny immediately thought of Lord Falconer, her own dearly “respected” Lord Chancellor, as a very safe pair of hands to guide this tricky piece of legislation through the system.
You will of course recall that Lord Falconer has had many “successes” in “managing” contentious political issues:
- He had to apologise to peers for misleading them about the financial state of the Dome, his pet project. It seems that he was mistaken in denying that it was insolvent
- He tried to abolish his own post of Lord Chancellor, then found he couldn’t
- He is involved in Nanny’s pet project for introducing a Supreme Court in Britain, some people have unkindly suggested that this plan is being worked out on the back of an envelope
- He managed to persuade Nanny to exempt members of the judiciary from the £1.5M tax threshold on pension funds, that everyone else is subject to. It was not too difficult to persuade Nanny; she is, as we all know, quite friendly with lawyers and the judiciary
Now, as I mentioned, in theory this will allow ordinary people to ask Nanny and her chums what they have been up to; over 100000 public bodies will be covered by this act. However, it seems that Lord Falconer has other ideas.
He says that the freedom of information laws will not signal a "free for all", because some Government deliberations must remain secret.
He then compared it to an ocean liner, the Titanic in fact; rather an unfortunate comparison don’t you think Lord F?
Lord F went on to say that some aspects of ministers' decisions were “rightfully” exempt from the Act. It seems that to expose some information would “hinder” good government; now you know why Nanny chose him!
"Cultural change in Whitehall is exactly like turning round the classic ocean liner...Opening up Whitehall and introducing freedom of information is a titanic task..”
"The Act does not signify a `free for all'."
It seems that the new measures will not cover the security and intelligence services, the Special Forces, courts and tribunals.
Additionally, other areas such as; defence, international relations, the economy, law enforcement, health and safety and the Cabinet's collective responsibility for Government decisions are subject to a public interest test.
In other words Nanny will still have the final say as to whether you are entitled to ask a question, and receive an answer.