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Expenses Fiasco Is A Freedom Of Information Issue


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This is a story about the economy, and house prices. It is not just about parliamentary expenses but is central to all the corruption surrounding banking, mortgages, property, parliament, and ESPECIALLY local government.

The real villain in the expense fiasco is a law which, all along, has pretended to open channels of information but in fact has closed them off. The Freedom of Information Act is a palpable lie. It should be renamed The Denial of Information Act because except for the blandest of requests under its remit, it seeks to restrict more than it seeks to enlighten. It is there to soft-soap and soothe the average member of the elecorate into believing that we have real access to how our money is spent and what is done in our name.

NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

I would argue that without this pathetic piece of legislation we would be likely to know more now than we actually do as a result of it, since its real implementation has so many barriers, so many hurdles and so many get-out clauses it is barely worth the paper it is written on. Sure, it does just about allow some scrutiny of minor and trivial, non-controversial information. But that was available in the first place, with a little cunning and determination.

But the major obstacles to the examination of the crucial aspects of public life and the public purse are as present as they ever were. You only have to log on to Heather Brook's webpage -

http://www.yrtk.org/

- to learn that Heather herself had to run through endless hoops, fight a high court legal case, and meet nothing but stubborn resistance all the way, and still she did not have what was promised delivered, for even though she won the case, the House of Commons persistently broke the law by delaying, over and over again, the delivery of the information she won the right to. And indeed theTelegraph revelations in the end bypassed any meaningful FOI response and I beleve the information was obtained by surveillance, passing of brown envelopes, leaks, bribes, and a great deal of cash passing hands.

So rather than being a triumph of so-called freedom of information, these revelations obtained were DESPITE this joke of a law.

Furthermore, it is absurd and bizarre that ANY of this information should have needed an FOI request in the first place. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN BY DEFAULT, as should be almost every decision, policy, major financial transaction, indeed every single significant action of every single public body, whether it is the Home Office, the Treasury, the Department of Defence or any other local or national government.

We have become used to an opposite paradigm. Public bodies spending huge amounts of public money have become breathtakingly arrogant and complacent about transparency. The Freedom of Information Act has done nothing to breach the damn holding back the perfectly legitimate right for you and I to know what is being spent in our name, whether it is on travel, arms, PR, salaries, expenses or any other cash being spent on our behalf. The hoops one has to run through to obtain the most trivial information is itself an exercise in obfuscation, delay tactics and diversionary trickery. Why should I have to write to my local council and make an "official" request for information it should already have published on its website?

Why should some faceless, unelected, mandateless beaurocrat have the temerity and rudeness to tell me what he or she "thinks" is an unreasonable request, or subject to the decision of "not in the public interest"? How dare they behave in this way.

Add another significant hurdle in the mix: A high proportion of FOI requests are rejected on the grounds of "national security". Oh really? I wonder who invented that one? Look no further than Jacqui Smith and past Home Secretaries whose entire lives are spent inventing bogus and spurious excuses not to let us know what is going on, on the ridiculous and imagined limp excuse of terrorism prevention.

The total failure of the FOI is but a small chapter in the utter failure of nearly all apparently public serving watchdogs and legislation, quangos and other bodies which pretend to look after our interests but dismally fail in their remit. To name a few: The FSA, the appalling Police "Independent" Complaints Commission, ICSTS (r.i.p), OFT, all the other telecoms watchdogs, almost every other publicly funded body, numerous laws, including the data protection act which was meant to protect US against intrusions into privacy but in fact does the opposite: it gives corporations the right to know everything about us and for us to know nothing about them!

It is not just MP's expenses that is in focus here; it is the very mechanism of information flow that has, for years, been corrupted, diverted and manipulated so that those with corporate or politcal power can hide more than ever before, resulting directly in the stinking corruption that has not just been a few members of parliament flipping a couple of properties, but has significantly contributed to the whole economic mess we are now in, and even wars that were fought uneccessarily and at huge cost.

Edited by VacantPossession
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All thesee goverment deaprtments hide behind saying they can not discuse individual cases so what are we suport to talk about hyperphetical case or something.

keep telling you all the system is broken and need to be removed

Edited by Justice
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it would be much more effective for the populace to have a detailed invoice of everything that taxes are used for, than any law against corruption.

that is likely why we will never see it happen.

though I completely agree, the idea that a good majority of the money I earn can be spent without me having the slightest idea where it's gone is ridiculous.

I think it would work better to start at a local level though if you are looking for change.

getting the details of the local council would be much easier than starting at the top.

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All thesee goverment deaprtments hide behind saying they can not discuse individual cases so what are we suport to talk about hyperphetical case or something.

keep telling you all the system is broken and need to be removed

This post has been edited by Justice: Today, 05:37 AM

And that's the edited version!

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Guest AuntJess
And that's the edited version!

So the guy can't spell - so what? He is still entitled to air his point of view. Funny a comment like this on a Freedom of Info. debate. :rolleyes:

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This is a story about the economy, and house prices. It is not just about parliamentary expenses but is central to all the corruption surrounding banking, mortgages, property, parliament, and ESPECIALLY local government.

The real villain in the expense fiasco is a law which, all along, has pretended to open channels of information but in fact has closed them off. The Freedom of Information Act is a palpable lie. It should be renamed The Denial of Information Act because except for the blandest of requests under its remit, it seeks to restrict more than it seeks to enlighten. It is there to soft-soap and soothe the average member of the elecorate into believing that we have real access to how our money is spent and what is done in our name.

NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

I would argue that without this pathetic piece of legislation we would be likely to know more now than we actually do as a result of it, since its real implementation has so many barriers, so many hurdles and so many get-out clauses it is barely worth the paper it is written on. Sure, it does just about allow some scrutiny of minor and trivial, non-controversial information. But that was available in the first place, with a little cunning and determination.

But the major obstacles to the examination of the crucial aspects of public life and the public purse are as present as they ever were. You only have to log on to Heather Brook's webpage -

http://www.yrtk.org/

- to learn that Heather herself had to run through endless hoops, fight a high court legal case, and meet nothing but stubborn resistance all the way, and still she did not have what was promised delivered, for even though she won the case, the House of Commons persistently broke the law by delaying, over and over again, the delivery of the information she won the right to. And indeed theTelegraph revelations in the end bypassed any meaningful FOI response and I beleve the information was obtained by surveillance, passing of brown envelopes, leaks, bribes, and a great deal of cash passing hands.

So rather than being a triumph of so-called freedom of information, these revelations obtained were DESPITE this joke of a law.

Furthermore, it is absurd and bizarre that ANY of this information should have needed an FOI request in the first place. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN BY DEFAULT, as should be almost every decision, policy, major financial transaction, indeed every single significant action of every single public body, whether it is the Home Office, the Treasury, the Department of Defence or any other local or national government.

We have become used to an opposite paradigm. Public bodies spending huge amounts of public money have become breathtakingly arrogant and complacent about transparency. The Freedom of Information Act has done nothing to breach the damn holding back the perfectly legitimate right for you and I to know what is being spent in our name, whether it is on travel, arms, PR, salaries, expenses or any other cash being spent on our behalf. The hoops one has to run through to obtain the most trivial information is itself an exercise in obfuscation, delay tactics and diversionary trickery. Why should I have to write to my local council and make an "official" request for information it should already have published on its website?

Why should some faceless, unelected, mandateless beaurocrat have the temerity and rudeness to tell me what he or she "thinks" is an unreasonable request, or subject to the decision of "not in the public interest"? How dare they behave in this way.

Add another significant hurdle in the mix: A high proportion of FOI requests are rejected on the grounds of "national security". Oh really? I wonder who invented that one? Look no further than Jacqui Smith and past Home Secretaries whose entire lives are spent inventing bogus and spurious excuses not to let us know what is going on, on the ridiculous and imagined limp excuse of terrorism prevention.

The total failure of the FOI is but a small chapter in the utter failure of nearly all apparently public serving watchdogs and legislation, quangos and other bodies which pretend to look after our interests but dismally fail in their remit. To name a few: The FSA, the appalling Police "Independent" Complaints Commission, ICSTS (r.i.p), OFT, all the other telecoms watchdogs, almost every other publicly funded body, numerous laws, including the data protection act which was meant to protect US against intrusions into privacy but in fact does the opposite: it gives corporations the right to know everything about us and for us to know nothing about them!

It is not just MP's expenses that is in focus here; it is the very mechanism of information flow that has, for years, been corrupted, diverted and manipulated so that those with corporate or politcal power can hide more than ever before, resulting directly in the stinking corruption that has not just been a few members of parliament flipping a couple of properties, but has significantly contributed to the whole economic mess we are now in, and even wars that were fought uneccessarily and at huge cost.

The contradiction at the heart of any legislation that purports to offer freedoms is that it places the gift with the legislature whereas assumed freedoms are inalienable - at the gift of no individual or institution. Thus, a freedom granted by government is no freedom at all since what is gifted by government can be withdrawn by government.

The same is true of codified human rights. That which is inalienable now appears as within the gift of legislators.

The real danger with "gifted" freedoms is that they can be withdrawn by less benevolent governments than those which drew up the charters. Inalienable freedoms, on the other hand, exist APART from governments. Which is why governments love human rights legislation - it actually represents a curb on individual freedom, and governments are all about power and control of the populace.

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