Wednesday, 21 November 2007

DoH hides motives behind CMO report


Thank you for your email in which you asked for an internal review of the Department’s decision to withhold information requested by you under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Your original request was in seven parts and information was given in response to six parts except for part 4 which was withheld under s36. Part 4 of your request stated:

“If the content of the CMO's report was discussed with any of the above people, I would like to see records of precisely what was discussed and who was present.”

I apologise for the delay in responding to your internal review request which has been subject to extensive discussions within the Department.

The review is now complete. The Department is satisfied that section 36 of the FOI Act was correctly applied to that part of your original request and that the public interest in withholding the information did and continues to outweigh the public interest in disclosing the information you requested.

Our public interest arguments were fully explained in our original response. I can also confirm that the opinion of a “qualified person”, in this case a Minister of the Crown, was sought as to the use of the section 36 exemption.

By way of further explanation of the decisions taken, the principle issue in this case concerned the fact that Ministers and Government officials need to be able to engage in free and frank discussion of all the policy options, to expose their merits and demerits and their possible implications as appropriate. Their candour in doing so could be affected by their assessment of whether the content of such discussion would be disclosed in the future. Additionally, papers need not be released if release would inhibit the provision of advice for the purposes of deliberation, or would otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:"

There we have it, democracy is dead, the fact that the CMO's report was discussed with ministers and civil servants is no surprise; however it is another thing that the motives and reasons behind this report can be hidden in this way.

How can the CMO's report be claimed to have been genuinely consulted, if the real reasons for it and the motives behind it are not revealed to those consulted? So much for consultation.

Remember the CMO's report includes the controversial downgrading to a civil standard of proof in fitness-to-practise cases, which has been included in the Government's Health and Social Care Bill. So much for this being properly consulted then.

I fail to see how the CMO's position remains tenable when it appears that so much of his work is so politically motivated. Above all this lack of transparency is not something one expects in a western democracy, I am amazed how our government is coming to resemble a banana republic. Metaphorically speaking, Sir Liam has certainly had his fair share of the bananas.


The Welsh Pharmacist said...

Not on topic but...

Do you chaps have a link to that story about the vet who delegated treatment of animals to her techs, while supervising via webcam, and then got a rather large bollocking from her regulatory body about it?

I can't seem to find it on google.

Good site, by the way, keep it up.

Garth Marenghi said...

I do, Dr C covered it very well back earlier this year:

brilliant critique in my unbiased opinion!