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Saturday, June 12, 2010

A government open to scrutiny?

A government open to scrutiny?

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has announced an unprecedented drive towards transparency in government.

"We want to harness the wisdom, the common sense and ingenuity of the British people", Maude said.

The Prime Minister has asked all his ministers to start work on meeting new standards for transparency. Tight deadlines are being set on publishing information that has never been in the public domain before.

In my view, when the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe "decided to resume consideration of this case at their 1092nd meeting (September 2010) (DH), in light of a draft interim resolution to be prepared by the Secretariat if necessary" it was providing the UK with a window of opportunity to resolve the issue once and for all.

A failure by the UK to be transparent will only mean that the Committee of Ministers will carry out its threat. That is, that Hirst v UK(No2) will be referred back to the ECtHR for a decision that the UK has failed to fully comply with the judgment. In my view, it is an open and shut case. Therefore, the Court will then refer the case back to the Committee of Ministers to apply the necessary sanctions against the UK. For example, "where there is a persistent failure of compliance by a state, consideration should indeed be given to excluding the state from taking on particular leading positions or functions within the Council of Europe, or suspending its voting rights within the CoM, or expelling it".

In my view, if this happens, it will be curtains for the UK in Europe.

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