MINISTERIAL VETO STRIKES AGAIN – MINISTER’S STATEMENT PUBLISHED

May 10th, 2012

On Tuesday, I blogged about the decision of the Secretary of State for Health to veto the order requiring disclosure of the transition risk register in the NHS risk registers case. Today the Secretary of State published his statement as to the reasons for the imposition of the veto. You can read the statement here: https://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/05/statement-transition-register/. The statement is notable not least because it suggests that, in the Government’s view, there is a very strong public interest in avoiding the disclosure of risk registers, which are used as a tool across government, particularly where the advice they contain ‘is required at highly sensitive times on highly sensitive issues’. The statement also reveals that, so far as the Government is concerned, despite being concerned with policy implementation rather than policy development, transition risk registers may yet retain a high degree of sensitivity, particularly where they are being used against a backdrop of shifting policy priorities. Finally, it is worth noting that one of the factors which apparently influenced the decision to issue the veto is the fact that the publication of the transition risk register would have acted as ‘a serious distraction from progressing the [NHS reform] proposals’. This is something which is likely to be leapt on by opponents to the reform proposals, many of whom take the view that the Government is deliberately seeking to avoid disclosure of the registers because it is concerned that they will reveal fundamental flaws in the proposals.

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