BBC BLOGS - Open Secrets
« Previous | Main | Next »

The long arm of the state

Martin Rosenbaum | 15:41 UK time, Thursday, 21 February 2008

The House of Lords has voted to make Northern Rock subject to freedom of information, against the wishes of the government. It is not yet clear whether ministers will try to overturn this in the Commons.

If this is not reversed, then Northern Rock will join the list of public bodies covered by FOI - a list which is fascinating for the way that it itemises the more obscure reaches of the British state.

There are some public organisations of whose existence I knew nothing but have titles which give an admirably clear indication of the nature of their work - for example, the Committee on Chemicals and Materials of Construction For Use in Public Water Supply and Swimming Pools.

But there are others for which I have to confess I remain in ignorance of their role in public life:

The Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances (crops grown in no man's land between England and Scotland?)

The British Potato Council (what about carrots?)

The Committee of Investigation for Great Britain (must be plenty to keep them busy)

The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses (presumably either there are no southern lighthouses or they do not have commissioners? and could they have any link to Northern Rock?)

The Committee on Safety of Devices (sounds like a pretty wide-ranging remit)

The Darwin Advisory Committee (which Darwin?)

The Distributed Generation Co-Ordinating Group (electricity or co-ordinating relations between old and young?)

The Government Chemist (can you buy aspirin there?)

The Poisons Board (does it poison people or stop them from being poisoned?)

The Strategic Investment Board (sounds very important)

The Technical Advisory Board (sounds quite important)

The Verderers of the New Forest (actually, as it happens, I do know what they do - and FOI has affected them).

(If you want you can imagine the list being read out by Rowan Atkinson).

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:11 AM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • Dave Jenkins wrote:

The Laboratory of the of the Government Chemist (LGC) are co-located with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) at Teddington. LGC provides reference chemical material for other laboratories to calibrate their analytical instruments. Both LGC and NPL are co-funded by the DTI and industry to support the National Mesurement System (NMS).

Looks like FOI lost out. I read online this morning the MPs managed to get out of having to bring NR under FOI

(real geeks get to use 3 abbreviations in a row and have them make a sentance. I, therefore, am not a geek.)


  • 3.
  • At 11:28 AM on 22 Feb 2008,
  • A Beacon in the Dark wrote:

The Commissioners of Northern Lights are responsible for the provision of marine aids to navigation (i.e navigation buoys and onshore & offshore Lighthouses) around Scotland and the Isle of Man; Trinity House deals with Buoys and Lighthouses around England and Wales.

This post is closed to new comments.

More from this blog...

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.