[Diggers350] Independent: Royal Family feudal elite granted new right of secrecy
chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
Mon Aug 25 01:41:19 BST 2014
Clearly a distraction since, like the tabloid press, you focus so
much attention on this tedious line of aristocrats
Are they a 'Distraction', or 'Irellevant' Simon?
> Britain's feudal elite granted immunity from FOI laws.
> Royal Family granted new right of secrecy
> Coalition to write special exemptions into Freedom of Information Act
> BY ROBERT VERKAIK , HOME AFFAIRS EDITOR Saturday 08 January 2011
> The Royal Family is to be granted absolute protection from public
> scrutiny in a controversial legal reform designed to draw a veil of
> secrecy over the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince
> Letters, emails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and
> the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even
> if they are in the public interest.
> Sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information Act will reverse
> advances which had briefly shone a light on the royal finances –
> including an attempt by the Queen to use a state poverty fund to
> heat Buckingham Palace – and which had threatened to force the
> disclosure of the Prince of Wales's prolific correspondence with
> Lobbying and correspondence from junior staff working for the Royal
> Household and Prince Charles will now be held back from disclosure.
> Buckingham Palace confirmed that it had consulted with the
> Coalition Government over the change in the law. The Government
> buried the plan for "added protection" for the Royal Family in the
> small print of plans called "opening up public bodies to public
> Maurice Frankel, head of the Campaign for Freedom of Information,
> said that since the change referred to communications written on
> behalf of the Queen and Prince Charles it might be possible for
> "park keepers working in the royal parks" to be spared public
> scrutiny of their letters written to local authorities.
> The decision to push through the changes also raises questions
> about the sincerity of the Liberal Democrats' commitment to
> government transparency. In opposition, senior Liberal Democrats
> frequently lined up to champion the Freedom of Information Act
> after it came into force in 2005.
> Ian Davidson, a former member of Parliament's Public Accounts
> Committee (PAC), told The Independent: "I'm astonished that the
> Government should find time to seek to cover up royal finances.
> When I was on the PAC what we wanted was more disclosure not less.
> "Every time we examined royal finances we found extravagance and
> indulgence as well as abuse of expenses by junior royals.
> "Everywhere we looked, there were savings to be made for the
> Government. This sends the wrong message about public disclosure
> and accountability."
> Paul Flynn, another member of the committee, described the special
> protection for the Royals as "indefensible". He said: "I don't
> think it serves the interests of the public or the Royal Family
> very well."
> Mr Frankel said he believed that Prince Charles was the driving
> force behind the new law.
> "The heir to the throne has written letters to government
> departments in an attempt to influence policy," he said.
> "He clearly does not want these to get into the public domain."
> Later this month, lawyers for the Cabinet Office, backed by Prince
> Charles, will go to court to continue to resist Freedom of
> Information requests of ministers to publish letters written to
> them by the Prince of Wales.
> A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said that the change to the law
> was necessary because the Freedom of Information Act had failed to
> protect the constitutional position of the monarch and the heir to
> the throne. He explained that the sovereign has the right and duty
> to be consulted, to encourage and warn the government, and by
> extension, the heir to the throne had the constitutional right and
> duty to prepare himself for the role of King.
> "This constitutional position relies on confidentiality, so that
> all such correspondence remains confidential," he said.
> But he said that change would also mean that correspondence not
> covered by the absolute exemption would be made public 10 years
> earlier than under the current disclosure rules.
> The Palace's position was backed by Professor Vernon Bogdanor,
> research professor at King's College London.
> He told The Independent: "The essence of constitutional monarchy is
> that the Queen and other members of the Royal Family remain
> politically neutral. The Queen meets the Prime Minister once a
> week, when both are in London, to discuss government policy.
> "The heir to the throne has the right, and perhaps the duty, to
> question ministers on policy so as to prepare himself for the
> throne. Such discussions are only possible if they remain
> confidential. Otherwise the 'neutrality' of the Queen and of the
> Prince of Wales could be undermined.
> "When the Queen meets the Prime Minister, no one else is present –
> not even the Queen's Private Secretary. For this reason, it is
> right that the Royal Family should be exempt from FOI."
> The Government claimed that the thrust of the changes announced
> yesterday would make it "easier for people to use FOI to find and
> use information about the public bodies they rely on and their
> taxes pay for".
> The Ministry of Justice intends to increase the number of
> organisations to which FOI requests can be made, bringing in bodies
> such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Financial
> Services Ombudsman, and the higher education admissions body UCAS,
> and also all companies wholly owned by any number of public
> In the public interest? The stories they didn't want us to know
> *In 2004 the Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help
> heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a
> public relations disaster. Royal aides were told that the £60m
> worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes
> and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing
> associations or hospitals it could lead to "adverse publicity" for
> the Queen and the government.
> *A "financial memorandum" formalising the relationship between the
> sovereign and ministers set out tough terms on how the Queen can
> spend the £38.2m handed over by Parliament each year to pay for her
> staff and occupied palaces.
> *The Queen requested more public money to pay for the upkeep of her
> crumbling palaces while allowing minor royals and courtiers to live
> in rent-free accommodation.
> *As early as 2004 Sir Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, had
> unsuccessfully put the case to the Department for Culture, Media
> and Sport for a substantial increase in the £15m-a-year grant to
> maintain royal buildings.
> *The Palace planned to go ahead with refurbishing and renting the
> apartment of Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace after it
> had lain empty since her death in 1997.
> *A letter exchange revealed a tussle over who has control of £2.5m
> gained from the sale of Kensington Palace land. Ministers said it
> belonged to the state, while Buckingham Palace said it belonged to
> the Queen.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Diggers350