Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Rule For One...

The Northern Rock debacle goes on. And on.

Not content with shovelling shedloads of British taxpayer's money into the bottomless pit that is Northern Rock; not content with shelling out ninety thousand pounds each and every month for a "Saviour" to drag the bank out of growing chaos, our increasingly unfathomable Government have this week tried to exempt this fiasco from its Freedom of Information legislation.

In other words, to prevent the public from finding out how public money is being used to 'rescue' the bank.

This is even more strange coming as it does from the very Government who introduced the Freedom of Information Act in the first place. The legislation specifically states that nationalised institutions - err, like Northern Rock for instance? - must be subject to its provisions...

Fortunately, Opposition Leader in the House of Lords Lord Strathclyde managed to defeat this cynical nonsense, voting instead for an independent audit of the books within three months followed by an annual audit so we can see where our money is going.

The whole story reminded me of last year's Government settlement to Kent County Council. Despite some of the best local government finance officers in the land, we still could not work out how the Treasury had arrived at their figures. Since the Government had helpfully provided us with the Freedom of Information Act, we decided to use this to ask Government to explain its calculations. Their response? They wouldn't tell Kent how they had made up our settlement figure.

Sadly, the Government weren't prepared to allow Government legislation to be used to obtain information about the Government.

How does the saying go? One rule for one...

No comments: