Transparency: can’t see it

“Claims that this government would be the most transparent in history have been exposed as a sham after it emerged that nearly half the papers it was supposed to release for public scrutiny have been held back.

Departments are expected to publish details of spending as well as information on the gifts, hospitality, meetings and travel of ministers and officials.

But research shows that 92 out of the 202 “transparency” publications that ministers pledged to release are either late or missing.

Only three departments have met a new requirement to publish the gender pay gap between male and female officials.

Nine out of 22 departments are late publishing lists of civil service staff moving to business appointments or have never published them. These rules are designed to prevent abuse of the “revolving door” between Whitehall and business.

Nineteen out of 22 are late to publish lists of civil servants who are in “off-payroll arrangements”, often used to reduce tax.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has never released details of its spending, even though Whitehall has been told to cut waste by publishing records of items costing £25,000 or more, or more than £500 if purchased on a government credit card.

Liam Fox’s international trade department has not published six out of the nine transparency publications it should have released since it was formed in July 2016.

Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The Tories promised us ‘the most transparent government ever’, but Theresa May has broken that promise. The prime minister has failed to ensure proper scrutiny of government business. This risks breaching public trust.

“The government is doing all it can to hide their actions from the public. The question which people will naturally ask themselves is ‘What has Mrs May got to hide?’ ”

A government spokesman said: “We are releasing more information than ever before.The World Wide Web Foundation recently ranked the UK government first on its global Open Data Barometer, putting the UK at the forefront of open government.”

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)