MPs took a big step towards shielding themselves from freedom of information requests yesterday as a move to exempt Parliament from disclosure laws cleared the Commons at the second attempt.
Legislation to remove MPs and peers from the legal duty to release information on request now passes to the House of Lords, where it will be the subject of a presummer battle.
With signs of tacit support from the Government and Conservative front bench, it will need an alliance of Liberal Democrats, crossbenchers and backbench Labour and Tory peers to stop it.
Right-to-know campaigners reacted with dismay after the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act, which was presumed doomed after a handful of MPs talked it out in the Commons last month, was forced through by MPs after a classic parliamentary duel.
Maurice Frankel, of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, afterwards accused MPs of giving themselves protection they denied to those they represented and accused Ministers of secretly colluding with its Tory sponsor to let it pass.
“I cannot believe that a Government that is serious about freedom of information would have allowed that to happen,” Mr Frankel told The Times.