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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
MPs to debate info exemption bid
Filing cabinet
Opponents had thought they had killed off the bill last week
Debate on the controversial bill to exempt MPs from Freedom of Information laws has been delayed until May.

Opponents of the Freedom of Information Amendment Bill had effectively killed it off by debating for so long that Parliamentary time ran out last week.

Due to a procedural quirk it was due to be debated again on Friday, but it has now been deferred to 18 May.

The deputy speaker confirmed to MPs that a bill can only be withdrawn at the discretion of the MP sponsoring it.

Conservative David Maclean introduced the bill, saying it was needed to protect the confidentiality of MPs' correspondence with constituents.

'Disrepute'

Friday's Commons order paper had originally listed the bill as second on the agenda, behind a financial bill.

If it is passed, the FOI bill would effectively remove both the Commons and House of Lords from the list of public authorities obliged to release information under the 2000 act, which came into force in 2005.

The bill also protects all MPs' correspondence from release and stops authorities, such as councils or companies, confirming or denying whether they have received a letter from an MP.

Labour MP David Winnick, an opponent of the bill, said: "Exempting MPs from the Freedom of Information Act can only bring the House of Commons into disrepute."




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