DH refuses to publish NHS Health Bill risk register until it has 'full decision'

Health minister Lord Howe said the DH cannot release the NHS Health Bill risk register a court told it to until it sees the tribunal's full decision.

Lord Howe: hoped the tribunal will make its ‘full decision as soon as possible’ so the government could decide if it were going to appeal.
Lord Howe: hoped the tribunal will make its ‘full decision as soon as possible’ so the government could decide if it were going to appeal.

Despite mounting political pressure the DH has still not published the transitional risk register after a tribunal upheld the decision of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last Friday ordering full disclosure.

In a response to an emergency question tabled by the leader of the opposition in the Lords, Baroness Royall this afternoon, health minister Lord Howe said he hoped the tribunal will make its ‘full decision as soon as possible’ so the government could decide if it were going to appeal.

He added: ‘It is a point of point of principal whether a risk register that is integral to formulation of policy should be published.’

Appeals for the minister to delay the third reading of the Bill in the Lords which is due next Monday (19), were also rebuffed.

Labour’s Lord Falconer asked what was the harm in disclosing the risks if much of the information was in the public domain, as the minister had earlier said.  

The DH’s position remains unchanged since last Friday when a spokesman said: ‘We are still awaiting the detailed reasoning behind this decision. Once we have been able to examine the judgment we will work with colleagues across government and decide next steps.’

The tribunal has only ordered the government to publish the transitional risk register and has backed the DH’s decision to keep the full departmental strategic risk register secret.

This comes after a Freedom of Information request by the then shadow health secretary John Healey was declined by the DH. The government then appealed the Information Commissioner’s ruling last November which backed its publication, launching a two-day tribunal which ended last Tuesday at the Competition Tribunal in Victoria House, Bloomsbury, central London.

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