James Forsyth

Too much information | 26 February 2008

Too much information | 26 February 2008
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The Information Commissioner is wrong to order that the minutes of the Cabinet meeting where the legality of the Iraq war was discussed be published. If Cabinet Minutes can be released so soon after the event, no one will speak their mind in cabinet anymore; it would effectively mean the end of Cabinet government.

As Sam Coates puts it: 

“Cabinet Ministers need somewhere they can discuss, debate and disagree about policy in private. This is surely sensible (if they did not have a chance to raise concerns, how can they exercise collective responsibility?) and this is why Cabinet discussions and the minutes are secret.”

One of the things that all the various enquiries into Iraq revealed is how pernicious sofa government is to good government. But if the records of Cabinet Meetings are no longer guaranteed to be private for at least 30 years, then Ministers are going to—by necessity—discuss the most sensitive of matters in informal conversations of which there is no record.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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