By Ray Fleming

TRANSPARENCY is a word much loved of politicians when trying to persuade the electorate that they will be “open” about what they are planning and how they will carry it out. There is another aspect to transparency which is that any government should conduct its business through official communication channels so that there is record for the future of what happened and how and why. There are worrying signs, however, that not every minister in the Lib-Dem coalition is committed to such transparency and openness.

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has given the impression of being one of the more successful of first-time ministers who took office 15 months ago. He has not been able to launch as many new “free” schools and academies as he originally intended but a fair number of children have started at them this September. There are, though, questions to be asked about the financing and other aspects of these schools and their relationship to the state education system which Mr Gove and his advisors seem anxious to keep from the official records by creating their own communications network and cutting out official channels, including senior civil servants.

In this way, apparently, they had hoped to avoid such information becoming available under the all-important Freedom of Information system. That is wrong, both for the present and the future.