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.
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.'