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Presenting the 1997 Campaign for Freedom of Information's awards the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, said that the go...
Presenting the 1997 Campaign for Freedom of Information's awards the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, said that the government should take an active lead in promoting openness. 'We should be ready

to open our doors, our files, our databases, so that the British

people know what is being said and done in their name.'

The lord chancellor pledged: 'We will deliver a Freedom of Information Act and it will deliver.

'When we published our White Paper, Your Right to Know, in December

last year, our critics were silenced. Our proposals have been warmly

welcomed, not least by the Campaign for Freedom of Information which

said they 'should provide a fundamental break with Britain's

tradition of government secrecy.'

'We have begun as we mean to continue. Alongside the White Paper, we

published a volume of background papers. These papers help to explain

why our proposals have developed in the way they have. They were

intended to make the debate on Freedom of Information more informed.'

'These background papers were generally well received in the spirit

in which they were published. They have helped to make the debate

better informed. This is really what Freedom of Information is about

- giving people the chance to understand how government works and why

we have reached particular decisions.

'I have no doubt that journalists and campaigners will take advantage

of our regime of greater openness to reveal facts which may be

uncomfortable for officials and ministers.

'That is their job. Investigative journalism has an important role in

making open government a reality. Over time, we can expect there to

be a few headline-grabbing revelations as a result of the Freedom of

Information Act. And why not? The media will be big gainers from the

new freedom of information regime but the public will benefit even


Lord Irvine said that the government is committed to openness at


'Our next step will be to produce a draft Freedom of Information Bill

to be published during the summer. By the time we come to legislate,

our proposals for a genuine Freedom of Information regime in this

country will have been debated, scrutinised and considered from every

angle. As a result, we should have a strong regime that will stand

the test of time.

'This government is committed to openness, but our goodwill is no

guarantee for the future. That is why we will enshrine the principles

of open Government in statute. Our intention is that no government

should ever again be able to shrug off the legitimate questions of

the British people.'

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