Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has taken his case to the Information Commission after Prescott refused his appeal for release of the Inspector’s report on the West of Stevenage development.

    Peter Lilley said: “The Deputy Prime Minister rejected my appeal because, he says, once published people would make representations about what the Inspector says which would re-open the Inquiry.

    “So instead he proposed that no-one will be able to comment on the Inspector?s Report until it is too late since it will not be published until Prescott has made an irrevocable decision on the basis of it  which he will not do until after the general election.

    “It may be upsetting for Inspectors to have their judgements discussed and debated by the general public. But that is democracy. It is what the Freedom of Information Act is supposed to encourage.

    “It is nonsense to suggest that the opportunity for the public and press to be able to comment on the Inspector’s Report before John Prescott responds to it amounts to re-opening the Inquiry. It would enable Prescott to take his decision in the light, not just of the Inspector’s Report, but of some debate about the strengths and weaknesses of that Report.

    “When I was Secretary of State for Social Security, I set up an Inquiry into Pensions Law. I did not withhold the Report until I had made my decisions about whether to accept the recommendations. I published it, allowed debate and reached conclusions in the light of that debate. Prescott should do the same.