Gov’t backtracks on blocking access to Cabinet documents for 70 years

Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Donna Scott-Mottley says that the country is still mystified even though the Government has agreed to withdraw a resolution to extend the period of exemption for Cabinet documents from 20 to 70 years.

The proposal, made on Tuesday when the Government tabled a resolution in Parliament, was hit with immediate repudiation from several quarters of the society.

Yesterday, a statement from Cabinet explained the Government’s decision to withdraw the proposal and that it will now be sent to a joint select committee for scrutiny, reasoning that it took into consideration the concerns and objections of the public.

Scott-Mottley, who is also the opposition spokesperson on justice, said that it remains a puzzle as to what motivated the Government to increase the period of exemption.

“Adding the additional 50 years is not only stunning, it’s ridiculous. Remember, we have not even been an independent nation for much more than 50 years. There is just no basis for them to have chosen 70 years. Even the UK is moving from 30 to 20 years,” she said.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said that reports that he was aware that the ministerial order would have come to the House on Tuesday were false.

Phillips explained that Prime Minister Andrew Holness spoke to him on the margins of Gordon House “some time ago”, telling him that the Government intended to increase the period of exemption for Cabinet documents from 20 years to 70 years. Phillips said he immediately objected and told the prime minister that the period was too long. He said Holness then responded, saying it was the international standard.

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