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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Sunday, 1 April 2012 17:56 UK

Can you keep a secret?

Lord Turnbull
Lord Turnbull

During the long debates on the bill to reform the health service in England, ministers resisted calls by Labour to publish a so called risk register drawn up by civil servants to advise on the effect of the legislation.

The government argues that under the Freedom of Information Act ministers are exempted from publishing advice from civil servants on matters of policy.

That hasn't stopped the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, ruling that the risk register for the Health and Social Care Act should see the light of day.

A tribunal has backed the commissioner and although the government still hasn't published the document, a draft copy has seen the light of day.

Ministers fear that if confidential advice they receive from civil servants is exposed to public scrutiny, Whitehall officials will think twice about saying what they really think - and that will undermine good government.

The Justice committee of the House of Commons is currently carrying out an inquiry into the working of the Freedom of Information Act. John Beesley has been carrying out his own investigation.

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