Skip to main content

Government Transparency

Volume 623: debated on Wednesday 22 March 2017

The UK is recognised as a world leader in transparency, and the Government are committed to being the most transparent in the world. We have published an unprecedented amount of data—more than 35,000 datasets, including data about the workings of government.

Will my right hon. Friend outline how the Government are being informed by international best practice to meet their manifesto commitment to be the most transparent Government in the world?

We must learn from each other, which is why we are members of the Open Government Partnership, which this country helped to set up. I have been to the OGP conference to learn from others, and we will continue to learn in that way, including from the OECD, the G20 and the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Does the Minister believe that transparency should begin at home? If he does, can he please explain where the response is to my letter of 19 December, which is addressed to his Department and to the director-general of his Department’s propriety and ethics team, because I have yet to receive it?

I profoundly apologise to the hon. Lady if we have not responded in time. It is very important to me that we respond courteously and quickly to Members, and I shall chase up the matter immediately and make sure that she gets a proper response.

15. I welcome the Government’s steps to increase transparency and look forward to the final stages of my own private Member’s Bill, which aims to extend public access to local audit documents in local authorities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that increasing transparency at all levels of government—local and national—is a crucial step forward towards increasing trust? (909393)

It is worth remembering that it was Margaret Thatcher who made it possible for local councils to conduct their hearings in public, which is something that we now take for granted. That is why we need to continue this if we are to reinforce the relationship between citizens and the public bodies that serve them.

I asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many meetings he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the Ayrshire growth deal. His answer was that he has had lots of meetings in general, but that the details of ministerial discussions are not routinely disclosed. Does the Minister agree that the lack of transparency in his answer is a disgrace?

It sounds entirely transparent to me. The Secretary of State is on the Bench. He has heard the question and no doubt he will want to be caught afterwards to discuss it further. I know that he has almost daily discussions with the Chancellor about the interests of Scotland, which is why he was able to secure an additional £350 million for Scotland in the Budget. That shows the advantages of being in this Union of the United Kingdom.