Even though it was heavily watered down thanks to pressure from the likes of Alastair Campbell, the Freedom of Information is, quite possibly, one of the only things the Labour Party has introduced that I agree with completely in principle. It would've been nice if it had been meatier, but there will always be the need for an element of secrecy by Government.
Last night, the MPs that voted to exempt themselves and peers from the Bill should, frankly,. be ashamed of themselves. The arguments that have been put forward, such as the nice emotive example of a constituent who'd been exposed to domestic abuse being exposed through a freedom of information request from a lawyer.
However this example does not illustrate a problem with the FoI Act. What it does do is show a failure to enforce the existing data protection laws which prevent the disclosure of personal information without consent.
The MPs that argued in favour of this bill on the grounds that they were protecting their constituents from disclosure are either (a) disingenuous liars, or (b) lacking the intellectual clout to understand their constituents are already protected by law (aka "a bit thick").
Sir Humphrey Appleby I think once said that the "Official Secrets Act is not to protect secrets, it's to protect officials." Likewise this private members bill is not about protecting constituents it's about protecting MPs.