Cabinet Office refuse to release minutes of 1997 devolution meetings

In January I put in a Freedom of Information Request to the Cabinet Office asking for a copy of the minutes and Terms of Reference of the 1997 cabinet meetings on devolution that resulted in Scotland and Wales getting devolved national governments and an agreement that England would be dismembered along EU regional lines with huge glorified county councils begging for scraps under the table.

These minutes have been requested more than once and on every occasion they have been refused.  The Information Commissioner has ruled against the Cabinet Office withholding the minutes and been overruled.  The Information Commissioner has been to court and obtained a court order instructing the Cabinet Office to release the minutes and it has been vetoed by the Home Secretary.  Twice, by Home Secretary’s of different parties.  Clearly these minutes are a smoking gun and we have a right to see what’s in them.

Here is the response from the Cabinet Office:

Dear Mr Parr,

Ref: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

I refer to your request where you asked: “Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, I am requesting a copy of the minutes of the 1997 Cabinet meetings on devolution. I am also requesting a copy of the Terms of Reference for the cabinet committee headed by Lord Irvine that the minutes relate to and any legal or departmental advice provided to the cabinet in relation to these meetings.”

I am writing to advise you that following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is held by the Cabinet Office.Some of the information you have requested is exempt under section 21(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. Section 21 exempts information if this information is reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means. Section 21 is an absolute exemption and the Cabinet Office is not required to consider whether the public interest favours disclosure of this information.

The terms of reference for the Ministerial Committee on Devolution to Scotland and Wales and the English Regions (DSWR) were published in Hansard on 9 June 1997. I attach a link:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo970609/text/70609w03.htm

The remainder of the information you seek is exempt under section 35(1)(a) and (b) of the Freedom of Information Act. This is a qualified exemption and therefore subject to the public interest test. The information is exempt under section 35(1)(a) and (b), which relates to the formulation or development of government policy, and Ministerial communications. We accept that there is public interest in improving public understanding of the development of Government policy on devolution and the way Cabinet Government operates more generally. We recognise that the decisions Ministers make have a significant impact on the lives of citizens and there is a public interest in this process being transparent. We also recognise that greater transparency makes government more accountable to the electorate and increases trust.

However, there is a countervailing public interest in protecting the constitutional convention of Cabinet collective decision-making. Ministers will reach collective decisions more effectively if they are able to debate questions of policy freely and in confidence. The maintenance of this convention is fundamental to the continued effectiveness of Cabinet government, and its continued existence is therefore manifestly in the public interest.

In relation to the specific documents you have requested, the policy discussions in this area are ongoing and the adverse effect of disclosing these documents now would not be diminished by the fact that the documents date from 1997. The matters discussed at Cabinet are not matters of purely historic interest, but are important matters of current discussion and debate. We therefore conclude that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Once again I have to ask: what have these traitors got to hide?

I am of course appealing to the Information Commissioner and I would ask that anyone else who joined me in requesting the minutes also appeals.  We can’t allow these people to continue to hide behind a veil of secrecy when the very existence of our nation is in their hands and negotiations with the Scottish separatists are being conducted in our name.

 

10 comments

  1. Daniel1979 (1 comments) says:

    I saw your January post and put in a request myself, it looks word-for-word to be the same rejection. Can’t say I agree with the reasoning.

  2. Jools (1 comments) says:

    Same here. Just what are they trying to hide? I can undestand a Labour Government not wanting us to know what went on but surely it would be to this stupid government’s advantage to let us see the utter contempt in which Labour treated England when they were planning their dog’s dinner of a devolution act.

  3. Daggs (50 comments) says:

    Same here Wonko.

  4. The Illusive Man (9 comments) says:

    Already done. I’ve appealed against the decision I received from the Cabinet Office and requested an internal review. When – not if – this review comes back and upholds the original decision, I shall be taking the decision to the Information Commissioner. More on my struggle to get information here: http://this-world-is.boldlygoingnowhere.org/andinet/wordpress/index.php/2013/03/freedom-of-information-cabinet-devolution-minutes-update-2/

  5. John (37 comments) says:

    No minutes but heres an Image…

    http://img1.abload.de/img/broonsjobfinallye5q.jpg

  6. Revin Kevin (1 comments) says:

    I would ask for a review and then go to the Information Commissioner if that fails.

    Don’t forget my petition to get this released:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44569

  7. Bob Anglorum (51 comments) says:

    It needs to be pointed out that “constitutional conventions” are not recognised by the law, specificaly Cabinet Ministry, and others such as a “Prime Minister” and “political party”. There upon how can it be in the public interest to withhold information regarding a conspiracy to violate the Treaty of Union which is recognised by law, by a combination of people who are not recognised by the law. The Treaty of Union ratified in 1707 by the Scottish and English parliaments sets out the terms by wich United Kingdom governments and parliaments must abide under international law.
    Under Article six of the Charter relating to the International Military Tribunal a “Crime against Peace” which is a war crime, is “the planning, preperation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression, or a war of violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the fore going”
    The “cabinet collective” concerned and those following have been “participating in a common plan or conspiracy” to the “violation of international treaties”, this is a war crime.
    “war crimes are those acts of an enemy soldier or civiliian which may be punished when the offenders are captured. They consist of breaches of the laws or customs of war. An act may be a war crime even though committed on superior orders”.
    Under law the “cabinet collective” by their planning to violate the Treaty of Union are civillian enemies of the English and Scottish nations, and can be punished when they are captured. The respondant to your letter, I hope they signed it, may also I therefore conclude in the public interest, be charged with war crimes for following orders. And just to add these crimes are “within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetuated”. The freedom of information act can not therefore be cited to prevent the detection of Crimes against peace, “in the public interest”.
    If we all refere to the Treaty of Union it will be noted that United Kingdom governments and parliaments must treat all parts of the union the same, they must abide by scottish law and English law, they must specifically abide by the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Bill of Rights 1689, and the “United Kingdom of Great Britain” must be represented by one and the same parliament. But what do we see, England divided into “regions”, England put under foreign rule against English law, English people threatened in their own country, a Scottish parliament, a Welsh assembly, the United Kingdom being represented by a European parliament, all this is a crime against peace, a war crime.
    Happy hunting, lets get the bastards.

    “Devolution, designed and delivered by Labour” (Owen Smith MP)

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