News 27th April 2015

Labour states its commitment to open government

by Tim Hughes

Tim is coordinator of the UK Open Government Network.

In January, the UK Open Government Network sent a letter to all UK political parties calling on them to state their commitment to open government. The Labour party has just sent the following response.

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Dear Tim

Thank you for your letter and giving me the opportunity to reiterate the Labour Party’s commitment to transparency and open government.

As the Party that introduced the Freedom of Information Act we are proud of our record of opening up government. We do, however, recognise that this is a continuous process that all Governments and all political parties should regularly state or restate their intentions in this area.

This week we published our manifesto and that included a commitment to use digital technology to make government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. It said:

We will further develop digital government to enable better communication, more collaboration, and sharing of data between services. It will make services and transactions more efficient and simpler for people to use. To create a more connected society we will support making digital government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. We will continue to back the principle of ‘open data by default’, releasing public sector performance data wherever possible.

Furthermore, you will be aware that in November, I – as Labour’s shadow cabinet office minster for Digital Government – welcomed the publication of the final report of the Digital Government Review that I commissioned a year earlier.

That report made several recommendations and set out a direction of travel for furthering the open government and transparency agenda. Our manifesto also reiterates our promises to extend the scope of freedom of information laws to include public services run by large private companies.

The Labour Party believes in openness and transparency as principles of a democratic and well-run government and we will work with any credible partner to further our shared goals. Should a Labour Government take office after the elections, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the next steps with Open Government Partnership.

Best wishes,

Chi Onwurah

Labour’s candidate for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and shadow minister for digital government, cyber security and social enterprise

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