MPs will today again debate a backbench Bill to exempt them and Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act (FoI).

From a newspapers point of view, the ramifications could be huge.

The move was presented as an attempt to ensure that us dastardly journalists cannot get our sweaty little hands on letters sent from constituents to their MPs.

You could say it is simply coincidence then that since newspapers started publishing lists of MPs' expenses, the figures claimed have started to decline.

The whole problem with the argument put forward by MPs, especially Conservative David Maclean who introduced the Bill, is that such correspondence between members of the public and their MPs are already protected.

Should your MP take up a fight for you against your local hospital or NHS trust, the information divulged by both parties is exempt from a FoI request.

To my knowledge, there has not been a complaint from one MP or constituent about such information being used incorrectly and there has not been one such incident.

I have no idea how our MP Anne Main will vote, but having met her, I am fairly confident that she recognises the importance of the press and the importance of public servants having no secrets from those they serve.

So why then the need for MPs to be less transparent than councillors, the police force, your local hospital or the fire service?

After all it is they who introduced the legislation. How can MPs request that police chiefs and council leaders comply, while they hide behind a bill and add a few quid extra to their monthly expenses bill at our expense?

Why should we be allowed to reveal how much a councillor spent on an overseas jolly or what a chief constable claimed for lunch last month but not what an MP has spent on stationary?

If the Bill is carried it would mean that an MPs thoughts on a local planning row or possible supermarket development would be allowed to remain a secret. But how is that serving you, the constituent and more importantly, you the taxpayer? It means MPs can say one thing to us and another in private, how will we all know where they really stand?

The problem facing us this week is that the Government appears to have joined the party after remaining neutral for so long.

The man who, as Home Secretary, helped push the FoI Act through told MPs last Thursday that he supported the Bill.

How strange that in 2000 he thought it was great idea.

Back-tracking furiously seven years later, Jack Straw trotted the old excuse mentioned above. Of course it is very reassuring to know that the Commons Leader is so adamant that constituent confidentiality must be upheld. Again, however, as there is no evidence that this has ever been breached, it is a somewhat bizarre claim.

Such safeguards, claims Straw are "not enough" adding: "The truth is that the way some journalists and the Information Commissioner are acting means that intention is not being met in practice."

What he means is that when he jumped on the FoI bandwagon during New Labour's whiter than white' era seven years ago, he expected congratulations from the media not an immediate request to find out how much he had claimed in 1999. But MPs are public servants and we have a right to know.

So tomorrow we could see the beginning of the end of the whole FoI concept.

If this happens you have to feel for those who have already fallen on their swords because of previous FoI requests. Well actually you don't, but I'm sure you see my point.

How long will it be for another Bill is introduced covering another public area and how hypocritical will it be if MPs do not vote in favour of it?

For years we have all waited for a change in British politics, an end to the secrecy and the behind closed doors meetings. The FoI is still in its very early days and, should it be allowed to grow, it can only improve the relationship between member of public and member of Parliament.

But for now all we can do is sit and wait while those who said they wanted to open up decide whether or not they want to close down the FoI down.

  • Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.