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Northern Rock FOI gag 'out of order' say Tories

Turning the air blue

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The inclusion of a paragraph in the bill to nationalise the Northern Rock which exempts the bank from the Freedom of Information Act is completely unacceptable, according to the Tories.

The legislation to bring the bank into public ownership includes a paragraph which states that the Northern Rock should not be covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

George Osbourne, the Tory shadow chancellor, said: "The public is now paying for this bank. We are entitled to know what it is doing with our money. It is completely unacceptable to exempt it from the Freedom of Information Act.

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been incompetent and now he's trying to cover his tracks."

Despite the controversy, the bill was passed by the Commons late last night. The Bill now goes to the Lords where it is expected to be passed later this week.

It also emerged yesterday that Ron Sandler, the businessman parachuted in to save the bank, is a "non-dom" - which means he benefits from controversial tax advantages that the chancellor has pledged to close. ®

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