Gordon Brown's new era of openness

Cabinet papers would be exempt from Freedom of Information laws for 20 years under new proposals.

The decision to release details of Cabinet discussions currently rests on a "public interest" test.

Prime Minster Gordon Brown has said he wants to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act as part of wide-ranging constitutional reforms.

He also wants to cut the limit on publishing official papers - but give more protection to sensitive material.

Such material would also include papers relating to the Royal Family as well as discussions between senior ministers.

Campaigners had tried to get cabinet meeting minutes from the run-up to the Iraq War published under FOI laws but Justice Secretary Jack Straw vetoed it in February.

Mr Brown also unveiled proposals to reduce the "30-year-rule" on the publication of government papers to 20 years and to extend FOI to cover private firms doing work for the public sector.

Cabinet papers 'to stay secret' (BBC News, 10 June 2009)

Freedom of information? It's a state secret - Promises of more open government have been made before. By Heather Brooke (The Times, 11 June 2009)