Freedom of Information: The Constitutional Aspects

  • Vernon Bogdanor


‘The British’, a member of the Nolan Committee on Standards of Conduct in Public Life has suggested, ‘like to live in a series of half-way houses’. That is certainly the case so far as freedom of information is concerned. Until the 1997 general election at least, Britain had been moving, in Peter Hennessy’s words, ‘from the back of an envelope to the back of a code’.1 We now live in a half-way house between a system of ‘tacit understandings’ and a statutory right to freedom of information.2


Ministerial Responsibility Policy Advice Select Committee Parliamentary Commissioner Official Advice 
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  1. 1.
    Peter Hennessy, The Hidden Wiring: Unearthing the British Constitution (London, 1995), pp. 207, 184.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    ‘British government’, Sidney Low declared in 1904, ‘is based upon a system of tacit understandings. But the understandings are not always understood’. Sidney Low, The Governance of England (London, 1904 ), p. 12.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    David Butler, Andrew Adonis and Tony Travers, Failure in British Government: The Politics of the Poll Tax (Oxford, 1994), p. 219.Google Scholar

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© Vernon Bogdanor 1998

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  • Vernon Bogdanor

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