UPDATE: From the Press Association...
The Tories will try to block controversial legislation exempting MPs from
the Freedom of Information Act in the House of Lords, David Cameron said
today. Speaking at a news conference in London, the Conservative leader said
his party was not prepared to support the Bill in its current form in the
upper chamber. "We will act to stop the Bill in its current form in the
House of Lords," he said. The Private Member's Bill, tabled by Tory former
chief whip David MacLean, was controversially passed by the Commons last
week. It is now due to go to the upper chamber for consideration.
Mr Cameron's announcement puts further pressure on Gordon Brown, who launched his leadership bid with a promise to promote more open government. Currently the Government is officially neutral on the legislation, but it is widely assumed at Westminster that ministers are tacitly supporting the Bill. With the Liberal Democrats also expected to oppose the legislation in the Lords, Mr Brown could find his commitment to open government facing immediate challenge if he continues to stand above the fray. While Mr Cameron acknowledged that there was a "real question" about protecting the confidentiality of MPs' correspondence with their constituents, he said it could not justify the new legislation. "I think it is not really enough to say that this is just a House of Commons matter now because I think that there is a big debate about MPs making themselves not subject to the Freedom of Information Act when others are." Meanwhile Tory former Cabinet minister John Redwood, who also opposes the Bill, claimed it could still be sunk as Mr Maclean was struggling to find a peer to sponsor it in the Lords. "My inquiries revealed that so far no peer has come forward to sponsor and propose the Bill in the Lords. As this is a Private Member's Bill and not a Government one, it needs a willing peer to pick it up and run with it," he said. "Now the peers have seen what the media did to David Maclean, they are obviously having second thoughts. "Brave as our peers are, it is not much of an invitation to be asked to carry a hand grenade with the pin already out through the Lords stages, especially when the cause is such a bad one."
Matt Wardman thinks this means the Tories will only amend the Bill. I hope he is wrong. The whole Bill is flawed and should be rejected. It is unamendable.