Communications Director in the Office of the Opposition Leader, Colin Campbell, is refuting Prime Minister Holness’s claim that Dr. Peter Phillips agreed to a resolution to extend the time Cabinet documents remain secret, from 20 to 70 years.
The Prime Minister told the media yesterday that he had briefed Dr. Phillips on the plan, and that the Opposition Leader agreed.
However, Mr. Campbell is refuting that account of the conversation.
Mr. Campbell says the Opposition supports a lowering of the time period which blocks public access to cabinet documents.
He told Nationwide News yesterday that it was always the intention for the secrecy period to be shortened not lengthened.
Mr. Campbell says the opposition believes the government should honour all requests for documents in accordance with the schedule set out in the Access to Information Act.
He’s responding to suggestions by Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Morgan, that the exemption increase, was triggered by an ATI request for documents, covering the period 1975 to 76.
Mr. Campbell says under the law, the documents are available and the Opposition has no issue with them being released.
He says Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips says, the government ought to provide the documents now as the law could not be changed retroactively.
Meanwhile, there are still questions surrounding the rationale given by the Holness Administration over its proposed move to extend the wait time to release Cabinet minutes from 20 years to 70 years.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Robert Morgan, says the decision was made due to deeper concerns over the private affairs of individuals.
The decision was eventually walked back due to mounting public pressure.
But political commentator and pollster, Don Anderson, says he’s still skeptical of the reason given by the government to justify the extension in the first instance.
He described the initial move as a backward step.
Mr. Anderson says the decision to walk back the planned extension was the sensible thing to do.
Meanwhile, political commentator, Javeon Nelson, says when the Joint Select Committee of parliament is convened to discuss the matter they should make a prudent decision in line with transparency.
Both were speaking last evening on Nationwide @5 with Cliff Hughes and Tyrone Reid.