GrahameMorrisMP from Matt Burgess on Vimeo.

Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fire from a Labour MP who has accused him of failing to implement his pre-election promise to extend the Freedom of Information act to private companies receiving public money. 

Labour MP Grahame Morris also said the private companies who receive public money are involved in a “national scandal,” as he spoke at a debate in parliament on the National Health Service.

“I would point out Mr Speaker that specifically on this issue of trust none other than the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Member for Witney, has broken yet another pre-election promise when he said he would extend the Freedom of Information Act for all publicly funded organisations. As a result the public can’t access information about private sector providers in the NHS,” he said.

He said Cameron, before being elected, had referred to extending the FOI act to other authorities including the Carbon Trust, the Energy Saving Trust the Local Government Association.

Mr Morris referred to his Early Day Motion to Parliament which calls for the Freedom of Information Act to be extended to private companies with public contracts, and in particular to private healthcare companies.

His motion has so far received backing from 38 MPs. Like Morris, most of the supporters for the motion come from the Labour party but he has also received the support of three Liberal Democrats and two members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

In the build up to the 2010 General Election David Cameron outlined a plan called “Big ideas to give Britain real change.”

Inside the plan the Conservatives said they will “expand the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to include taxpayer-funded bodies.” He said it will give the public access to information, which is only available to Ministers.

Morris also criticised the private companies who were receiving public money saying they were able to be held to account, other than by House of Commons committee.

“It allows them to hide behind a cloak of commerical confidentially as billions of pounds of taxpayers money are awarded to them in what are barely transparent contracts. I believe the public are being deliberately left in the dark,” he said.

He said private companies gain inside information by using the Freedom of Information Act and then are able to outbid the current public authorities which are providing the services.

You can watch his full speech in the debate here (it begins at 16:24) 

(Video: Parliament.tv)

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.