Private companies working on public contracts hide behind 'cloak of secrecy' a Sheffield MP has said

Louise Haigh MP was speaking in the House of Commons following the demise of construction firm Carillion

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 7:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 8:05 pm
Sheffield MP Louise Haigh

The Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley said the collapse of Carillion highlighted the need for greater transparency from private companies providing public services.

She added the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy also showed the need for more information to be made public by housing associations, as she proposed sweeping changes to Freedom of Information laws.

Draft legislation tabled by the Sheffield Heeley MP would extend FOI requests to private companies working in the public sector - such as Sheffield Council contractor Amey.

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She highlighted the collapse of Carillion and the growth of outsourcing that had created a "shadow state".

Ms Haigh added: "The limited scope of the FOI Act allows too many of those who are performing public functions with public money to nonetheless hide behind a cloak of secrecy.

"Bad decisions, targets missed, warnings ignored. The result, time and time again, is that similar to the scandal exposed in the past fortnight, that should have been predictable."

Her Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill would also stop what Ms Haigh called the excessive powers of public bodies to delay or restrict access to information under FOI.

Ms Haigh highlighted a lack of transparency by Concentrix over a contract to identify fraud in tax credits, and mental health provider Cygnet.

She also said the Grenfell Tower fire "has highlighted the desperate need for access to information held by the providers of social housing".

Ms Haigh said: "Housing associations which own or run many former council estates are completely outside the scope of the Act, and residents are denied information which they have a right to know."

The Bill, introduced through a 10-minute rule motion, is unlikely to become law without Government support.