--- Here is the interesting bit ---
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?Mike Freer:
I have already given way twice.
There are clearly good reasons why the details of such threats should not be open to public scrutiny. Some might argue that their publication too is in the public or national interest, but we are not hearing that argument today; we are hearing only about this register, and not about the others. The Opposition’s stance is strong on opportunism and weak on intellectual coherence. Let us look at their record in government. In 2009, when the shadow Health Secretary was Health Secretary, he refused a freedom of information request for publication of the Department’s strategic risk register. According to the Department, “'a public authority is exempt from releasing information, which is or would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchanges of views for the purpose of deliberation'”. There was also reference to the neutering of the free exchange of opinions between Ministers and advisers. That held then, and it holds now.
There is another issue, which was touched on by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. If the Department of Health is forced to issue all risk registers, what about other Departments? Will the Treasury have to release all risk registers involving the economy? Would that not cause financial havoc in the international markets? That explains why past Administrations have also refused to publish such documents. From a governance perspective, the Government’s stance is entirely right.
One of the problems of risk registers is that they are meant to be frank about what could go wrong. Any Member who has served on a project board will know how valuable such registers can be and how invaluable completely blank ones can be, and will also know that if the authors of risk registers are afraid to be open because of what might be misinterpreted, routine publication will cause them to become bland and anodyne and will render them useless.
The motion is simply posturing at its worst, and I will be voting “No” this evening.