Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has condemned John Prescott for refusing to release the Inspector?s report on the Inquiry into plans to build thousands of houses on the Green Belt between Hitchin and Stevenage. Peter applied for the report under the Freedom of Information Act. Yet John Prescott, who has already received it, has refused to publish it on the grounds that ?early release would not assist the process of debate in the public interest?. Peter Lilley described the excuse as “ludicrous? and accused the government of trying to keep this report under wraps until after the general election.
Peter Lilley said: “We know this report has been completed and sent to Ministers. Apparently they do not intend to publish it until the day the Deputy Prime Minister announces his decision about whether to build thousands of houses on the Green Belt between Hitchin and Stevenage. He clearly intends to delay that decision until after the general election. That itself is a cynical attempt to avoid the democratic verdict of the electorate.
“This is one of the most important planning decisions for decades since if Prescott does give his approval it would be the biggest encroachment of the Green Belt there has ever been. It would undermine the sanctity of the Green Belt across the country. So it is vital that everyone should have the opportunity to study the report before the Deputy Prime Minister announces his conclusions.
“The Minister says, ?early release of the Inspector?s report does not seem likely to assist the process of debate in the public interest?. That is the most ludicrous attempt to justify a government cover up I have ever heard. How can we make informed responses to the Minister?s decision when eventually he makes it if we cannot read this very substantial report until after his announcement?
“I am appealing against the Minister?s decision under the Freedom of Information Act and if need be will take it up with the Information Commissioner.?