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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
MP secrecy bill without sponsor
The bill has sought to protect MPs' correspondences
A controversial bill to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act seems almost certain to fail as no-one has agreed to sponsor it in the Lords.

A sponsor was needed by the end of business on Wednesday, but no-one stepped forward.

Although technically it could still be revived, it would be difficult to find time for a second reading.

Critics in the Commons had fought hard to get Tory MP David Maclean's private member's bill kicked out.

Mr Maclean had argued an exemption for MPs was necessary to protect the confidentiality of correspondence between MPs and constituents.

It seems very likely that this squalid little bill will no longer become law
Lord McNally
Liberal Democrat

The two-clause bill would have effectively removed 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.

It also protected all MPs' correspondence from release and stopped authorities being able to confirm or deny whether they have received a letter from an MP.

Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Tom McNally, who opposed the bill, said: "It seems very likely that this squalid little bill will no longer become law. We are happy that this bill will not become law.

"It speaks volumes that no member of the House of Lords was prepared to support this legislation.

"It could be revived any time during this session but there is simply no parliamentary time.

"The government would have to extend its already extraordinary generosity to this bill to the point where it would become a government bill," he said.

However, the prime minister's official spokesman later said it was entirely a matter for parliament, in effect ruling out government sponsorship.

Labour MP David Winnick said he was "absolutely delighted" the bill did not have a sponsor.

"It is unfortunate that it has been left to the second chamber to hopefully bury this nasty bill. I only hope that no further attempt will be made to revive the measure," he said.

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