[...] it was extremely welcome news this morning that the coalition is planning to extend the UK’s Freedom of Information laws. Nick Clegg has announced plans to make bodies such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Advertising Standards Agency, Network Rail and the Local Government Association subject to the legislation.But hold on, there's a large tranche of government handouts missing from that list, isn't there?
Our report on Taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning found that many organisations like Alcohol Concern were dependent on the Department of Health for the vast majority of their funding. Nick Clegg should be commended for this move but it’s crucial that bodies such as these are included in the broadened scope of the Act if taxpayers are to be given full information on public spending.Ah, that's better.
Indeed, we're talking here of the ever-increasing state-funded fake charity phenomenon. Since 1997, we have seen a massive expansion of 'the third sector' as Labour actively shovelled funds their way to perform tasks that the civil service or other public sector bodies used to do. That's why you see Cancer Research UK employees seconded to the Department of Health, for example.
You pay for this through your taxes, yet such organisations can ignore any and all requests for information on how they spend it.
Why Clegg is so shy about mentioning charities at this point would seem to be a mystery until one takes into account the much-trumpeted 'Big Society'. Cos that's all based on voluntary work, isn't it, and charities would fall into that category (well, not the ones we talk about here, natch, but they're conveniently snuggled under that umbrella).
OK, we know Clegg is full of horse shit, but this is one area where he cannot be allowed to wriggle free so easily.
They receive our money. They spend our money. They should be accountable as to how they use it. There are no two ways about it.
So, either they allow the average taxpayer - err, me, for example - the power to demand answers from those who tend to routinely ignore inconvenient correspondence, or the organisations should be allowed to keep their privacy ... by getting their grubby mitts out of the public purse.
What could be fairer than that, eh?