Feeds

Brown backs down on expenses secrecy

FOI FTW

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The government will not seek to change the Freedom of Information Act to exempt MPs from disclosing their expenses, Gordon Brown said today, signalling an abrupt U-turn.

In a surprise announcement at Prime Minister's questions, Brown said a deal the government made with the Tories to ensure the secrecy amendment had cross-party backing had collapsed.

"Recently that support that we believed we had from the main opposition party was withdrawn," Brown said. "So on this particular matter, I believe all-party support is important and we will continue to consult on that matter."

Thursday's planned vote on the amendment, which would have made MPs the only public servants specifically exempt in law from disclosing expenses, will now not go ahead.

Digital democracy charity mySociety.org claimed a victory today for transparency after its online lobbying campaign saw 4,000 letters sent to MPs by ordinary voters urging them to oppose the new law.

On his blog, mySociety.org director Tom Steinberg credited the power of the internet. "This is new, and it reflects the fact that the Internet generation expects information to be made available, and they expect to be able to make up their own minds, not be spoon fed the views of others," he wrote. "This campaign was always about more than receipts, it was about changing the direction of travel, away from secrecy and towards openness."

MPs' failure to keep their expenses secret was seemingly as much about politicking as people power, however.

Having previously supported the amendment, David Cameron told his party to oppose it today. In danger of being left to push an unpopular law through alone, Brown and Labour were effectively forced to drop it too. The Liberal Democrat leadership opposed secrecy throughout, though did not plan to whip members to a party line.

The government introduced the amendment after Commons authorities lost a long-running legal battle against journalists and were ordered to release more than a million receipts going back three years. In 2006-7 MPs claimed a total of £87.6m from the public purse on top of their salaries. ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.