From The Guardian: Pharmaceutical organisations working with Whitehall to maintain medicine supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit have signed 26 “gagging orders” that bar them from revealing information to the public.
Figures show that 16 drug companies and 10 trade associations have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) which prevent them from revealing any information related to contingency plans drawn up with the Department of Health and Social Care.
It means that the government has now asked at least 60 partners working on no-deal preparations across Whitehall to sign such agreements, angering transparency campaigners and MPs.
Theresa May’s government has been accused of controlling the release of information about no-deal preparations to try to force Conservative MPs to back the prime minister’s Brexit agreement through parliament.
The prime minister has previously condemned the use of NDAs by employers. She told parliament in October that it was clear they were being used “unethically”.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From Business Insider: Theresa May’s government has been found in contempt of parliament after it refused to comply with a motion passed by MPs demanding that it release the full legal advice on the prime minister’s Brexit deal.
MPs voted by 311 to 293 to find May’s government in contempt on Tuesday afternoon. It is the first time a UK government has been found in contempt by MPs in parliamentary history.
[Read full article on Business Insider website…]
From the Morning Star: Jeremy Corbyn exposed Theresa May’s hypocrisy in her withholding of Brexit legal advice yesterday by surprising her with a letter she had sent to the last Labour government that demanded they publish the legal advice they had received over the Iraq War.
During Prime Minister’s Questions the Labour leader urged the PM to reveal to MPs the “warts and all” legal advice on her unpopular Brexit deal so that they can make an informed decision over whether to let it pass through parliament on December 11.
He said she should “practise what she preached” and told MPs that she, as shadow leader of the Commons, had written to the then PM Gordon Brown in 2007 to demand the legal advice on invading Iraq.
[Read full article on Morning Star website…]
From The Guardian: The Tory government has spent two years and £40,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to hide how little the northern powerhouse minister visited the north of England in his role, in what one prominent northern figure called “a blatant disregard for the principles of democratic accountability”.
In February 2016 the Guardian submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) asking how regularly James Wharton, who had then been northern powerhouse minister for just over six months, travelled outside London.
The department flouted a requirement to respond to the request within 20 working days and did not provide a response for more than four months – at which point it denied the application.
The Information Commissioner’s Office then undertook an investigation, during the course of which it found that the department adopted “what appears to have been a strategy of wilful procrastination in order to obstruct a request for information”.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From Daily Mirror: The Tory Government’s law chief faces questions from Labour after he hit out at plans to make tax havens more transparent.
[Read article on Mirror website…]
From The Guardian: Diane Abbott has written to the home secretary, Amber Rudd, to ask why she has been refused permission to visit the controversial Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre despite at least a dozen requests over more than a year.
The shadow home secretary said getting access to the centre in Bedfordshire, which has regularly seen concerns raised about inappropriate treatment of highly vulnerable detainees, was a necessary part of her job.
Yarl’s Wood, where foreign nationals are detained before being deported, faced criticism last month after the chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said he had found increasing numbers of women held there despite evidence they were victims of torture, rape and trafficking.
Clarke said he was concerned to find that the Home Office had refused to accept that rape came within the legal definition of torture.
In July a Kenyan asylum seeker won a court victory, with the Home Office found to have acted unlawfully by locking her in a “punishment room” at Yarl’s Wood for an excessive time.
From Unearthed: Liam Fox’s department for international trade has signed agreements with the US which will make it much more difficult to find out what is being discussed in early-stage US-UK trade talks.
Liam Fox’s department last week quietly released an exchange of letters between the UK and the office of the US trade representative agreeing to mark exchanged information, papers and discussions as either “sensitive” or “confidential”, with both sides also agreeing to keep the information “held in confidence” for four years after the conclusion of the talks.
This has led to concerns from politicians and campaign groups that the talks could pave the way for the UK to accept lower US standards on issues including animal welfare, chemical and pesticide usage, and other practices.
[Read full article on Unearthed…]
From The Independent: The Conservatives are buying up Google ads to stop people reading about the controversy around its “dementia tax”.
[Read full article on the Independent website…]