EXCL Labour anger after government delays publication of crucial anti-corruption plan

Posted On: 
12th February 2019

Labour has blasted the Government after it failed to publish a crucial blueprint for cracking down on corruption.

The Open Government Network has written to Digital Minister Margot James demanding publication
Credit: 
PA Images

Shadow Cabinet Minister Jon Trickett joined forces with campaign groups to demand the Open Government Action Plan - which details key objectives to boost transparency - is revealed.

Critics fear work on the document may have been held up by the Brexit process, and warned ministers not to hide behind the impending departure from the EU as an “excuse for inaction”.

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Ministers were meant to publish the latest Open Government Action Plan in December but are now almost six weeks behind schedule.

The documents, produced every two years as part of a partnership which includes 79 other countries, detail commitments to improve government transparency and accountability.

Previous editions led to a groundbreaking register of company ownership being set up, as well as strides forward in open-access government data such as the publication of aid funding.

The Open Government Network - which includes the Electoral Reform Society, the Institute for Government and Transparency International - have written to Digital Minister Margot James urging her to publish the fourth edition.

They said the delay “risks undermining the UK’s position as an international leader on open government, our role in setting the agenda on a global stage and implementing domestic reform”.

Mr Trickett told PoliticsHome: “For too long the Tories have preferred a secretive approach to government, seeing democracy and accountability as inconveniences to be sidestepped and not as principles to be followed.

“As we have seen time and time again, when secrecy dominates, bad decisions follow.

“It is vital that transparency is at the heart of government, especially in times of great upheaval, and I fully support calls from citizens groups and campaign organisations for the Government to dramatically up its game.”

'NO HIDING BEHIND BREXIT'

Jess Blair of the Electoral Reform Society and member of the Open Government Network steering group accused ministers of “stalling”.

“The Government must not hide behind Brexit as an excuse for inaction on this front,” she added.

But a spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told PoliticsHome: “Open Government is a priority for this government and our latest action plan will be published shortly.”

The department added that it was already delivering objectives from the unpublished document - including expanding the data on grants to voluntary sector organisations in November 2017.

The UK was a founding member of the Open Government Partnership of nations committed to boosting transparency and has played a crucial role in its expansion since it was founded in 2011.