A number of people have contacted me about today's debate on the Department of Health risk register.
I won't be voting at all tonight because, prior to the business for the day being announced, I was slipped to chair a governors meeting at a secondary school in Croydon. If I were present, however, I would vote against publication and I thought I should explain why.
Before I was elected as the MP for Croydon Central, I was a local councillor for 12 years and for part of that time I was responsible for the Council’s risk register.
In my opinion, it is absolutely not in the public interest to make these documents public for three reasons:
- they present a worst case scenario and would create a misleading impression (you may remember during the swine flu pandemic three years ago the Chief Medical Officer used a “reasonable worst case scenario” figure of 65,000 deaths, which was widely reported in the media causing widespread panic - in the event just 460 people died);
- some of the information may be commercially sensitive; and
- in response to point 1, civil servants would use much blander language and Ministers would not then get clear advice.
Labour never published these risk registers during their time in office.
You do however have a right to a detailed assessment of the potential benefits and risks of the Bill. The Government has published over 400 pages of Combined Impact Assessments. These can be accessed here.