MPs and peers: expenses exempt from FoI

The government is to exempt details of all MPs' and peers' expenses from being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, and nullify all past requests by journalists and campaigners to get them published.

The decision was announced in a parliamentary order today published at the same time as the government announced controversial decisions on the third runway at Heathrow and compensation for millions of Equitable Life policyholders.

Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, is to use a special parliamentary order that can become law within 24 hours after being debated by MPs and peers next week.

It comes just as MPs were about to be forced, following a victory by campaigners at an information tribunal, to publish 1.2m expenses receipts, covering the period between 2005 and 2008.

In return the government is to increase the number of published categories, such as travel and accommodation, which detail where MPs used their expenses.

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Government exempts MPs' expenses from freedom of information - All past requests by journalists and campaigners to publish them will be nullified (The Guardian, 15 January 2009)

Freedom of information takes a battering - An order due to come into force next week will stop in its tracks all the victories won by campaigners to bring full transparency to MPs' expenditure (The Guardian, 15 January 2009)