Jeremy Hunt FOIA update:

A follow up to this

I have had a reply from the DoH regarding my request to see the evidence that Jeremy Hunt claimed to have about a 12 week limit for abortion:

02/11/2012

DE00000730638

Dear Mr Briggs,

Thank you for your request of 8 October 2012 under the Freedom of Information Act (2000).  Your exact request was:

“Recently the Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP has been quoted as saying that

“I’m not someone who thinks that abortion should be made illegal. Everyone looks at the evidence and comes to a view about when that moment is and my own view is that 12 weeks is the right point for it.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/06/jeremy-hunt-12-week-abortion-limit

Please provide all sources of evidence that Jeremy Hunt MP used in reaching this decision. In cases in which the piece of evidence itself cannot be provided, please provide a suitable citation or URL to where the evidence can be obtained.”

I can confirm that the Department does not hold any information relevant to your request.

The views expressed were related to his vote, in May 2008 about the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. This was prior to his appointment to the Department in September 2012.

Please note that abortion is a matter for Parliament and not for the Government.

The Government has no plans to change the law. It is accepted Parliamentary practice that proposals for changes in the law on abortion come from backbench members and, as with all matters of conscience, that decisions are made on the basis of free votes.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to:

Head of the Freedom of Information Team

Department of Health

Room 317

Richmond House

79 Whitehall ,

London

SW1A 2NS

Email: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xx.xxx.xxx.xx 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Department. The ICO can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Young

Freedom of Information Officer
Department of Health

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xx.xxx.xxx.xx 

I guess this response is perhaps not too surprising, but a little disappointing. The statement that –

the Department does not hold any information relevant to your request

– suggests that the ‘evidence’ of which Hunt spoke was not handed to him by a civil servant, and is not an official DoH position. Furthermore, given that –

The Government has no plans to change the law. It is accepted Parliamentary practice that proposals for changes in the law on abortion come from backbench members and, as with all matters of conscience, that decisions are made on the basis of free votes.

– it would appear that Hunt as a minister is not even in a position to propose a vote to change the limit on abortion.

However, the question of where Hunt’s evidence comes from remains.

He claimed to have seen evidence, which he has failed to reveal.  An omission? An error? A lie?

If we cannot rely on the Minister for Health, head of a department that should be a beacon of evidence-based-policy, to be straight with us regarding evidence, what hope have we that he will treat what remains of the NHS with the necessary regard?

If anyone has any ideas about how this might be taken further, comments are welcome.

2 Responses to Jeremy Hunt FOIA update:

  1. […] THIS BLOGPOST CONTAINS UPDATES WHICH FOLLOW THE ORIGINAL POST & A FOLLOW UP POST HERE. […]

  2. Gribble the Munchkin says:

    Note that the shifty little weasel didn’t say that the evidence pointed to 12 weeks. He said everyone had to look at the evidence and come to a decision and his was 12 weeks. As he isn’t in a position to change things this was, much like the recent cabinet shuffle, most likely intended to shore up key support demographics, in this case, the religious right. Throw them a bone and they vote enmasse. Same reason we had Chris Grayling come in to Justice all thunder and guns promising strong retribution, only for the PM to deliver a fairly reasonable speech shortly thereafter. That was to shore up support from the right wing populist vote.

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