Public Secrets: A Study in the Development of Government by K. G. Robertson

By K. G. Robertson

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Public Secrets: A Study in the Development of Government Secrecy

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This change in attitude reflects the belief that the public do require protection from the State. The courts have also interpreted the importance of natural justice in a more extensive way (the cases of Ridge v. Baldwin and Anismic Limited v. ls This is part of a relatively recent trend to 'judicialise' the process of administration which parallels developments in Sweden and the USA which have been related to freedom of information. The usual ground for judicial control of the executive has been ultra vires, the doctrine of an action being beyond due authority.

Weber's analysis fails to provide a clear picture of how a political system may create interests in secrecy, not only for bureaucrats but also for politicians. CONCLUSION This summary of the literature shows that the main problem of the analysis of government secrecy is that much of it remains on the level of making value judgements and that such an approach fails to provide an explanation of the flow of information which exists in different democratic political systems. Although the values dominant in a political culture are part of the explanation, the more important part is the structure of authority which creates both the interest in secrecy or disclosure and the authority or lack of it to further that interest.

What happens if the recommendations of such committees are ignored by the 'government' or by the cabinet? Who is to take the responsibility for such policies if they are based upon such recommendations, especially when these committees are all-party committees? These are fundamental questions which imply an alteration in the whole constitutional basis of British political life. THE COURTS In the case of America and Sweden, the role of the courts will be seen to be an important basis for the introduction of Freedom of Information Acts and, therefore, the role of the courts must be understood if one is to judge the extent to which the introduction of a British Act would be part of an already existing trend, or whether it would be difficult to accommodate.

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