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Transparency Agenda

Volume 592: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2015

In January this year, the UK was ranked top of a list of 86 countries on the World Wide Web Foundation’s open data barometer for the second year running. In addition, last year the 2014 Global Open Data Index again ranked the UK No. 1 out of 97 countries. There are now 19,000 data sets published on and our national information infrastructure sets the framework for how we manage hugely valuable open data.

I have a local issue to which I would like the Minister to respond. In Hull, 1,000 people applied for the first 14 jobs that Siemens recently advertised. Until 2013, MPs got constituency-based figures on the number of jobseekers going after each job vacancy. I would like to know why this was stopped under his Government. I have never had a clear explanation, and I do not think it is aiding transparency in this country.

That sounds like an issue for the Office for National Statistics, which, as the hon. Lady knows, is independent of Ministers, but I will ensure that this issue is looked at and that she gets a proper answer.

Another aspect of the transparency agenda is showing how taxpayers’ money is being spent. Does the Minister agree that that is the best way to safeguard against the massive waste and wild spending we have seen in the past and to avoid ballooning deficits and flat-lining public sector productivity in the future?

I am proud that the UK is now ranked as having the most transparent Government in the world. It undoubtedly has an effect in driving efficiency and savings. The ability to benchmark and compare spending in different parts of Government is a hugely powerful driver of efficiency and savings, and we intend to continue down that path.

Can we perhaps have a bit more transparency with respect to ministerial interests? This week, we saw Ministers hobnobbing at the black and white ball, although I noticed that the Paymaster General was sadly excluded from the Cabinet auction, and we saw new analysis showing that in the past 12 months Tory Ministers have made 168 ministerial visits to marginal Tory-held constituencies. In the interests of transparency, will the Minister now provide a full list of all ministerial visits and the reasons the locations were chosen, and will he publish the ministerial list of interests?

It sounds like the hon. Gentleman is getting a little concerned about the result of the upcoming election. The Government are disclosing more about what Ministers do than any Government have ever done before, and enormously more than the Government whom he supported before 2010.