Francis Maude pledges 'quantum leap' in transparency

Whitehall sign The government has made a series of pledges to be more transparent

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The government is pledging a "quantum leap in transparency" - with plans for more information on schools, hospitals, GPs and the courts to be published.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude will unveil the plans to public sector workers and data industry representatives later.

Plans include a website for parents which will bring up a range of schools information in each postcode.

Labour insisted it was also committed to greater transparency.

Thursday's pledge is the latest in a series of promises to improve the way government information is made available to the wider public.

The salaries of thousands of high-earning civil servants have already been published and councils in England have been told to make all spending above £500 available online.

'Powerful tool'

Mr Maude will outline plans for a "parent-friendly" website portal which will provide details of the latest local Ofsted judgements, pupil performance levels and school spending rates when people type in their postcode.

Details of assessments of teaching for pupils of different levels, across a range of subjects, are due to be published from January 2012.

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The government hopes that, at a time of financial stringency, that will be a cheap method to improve the standard and productivity of public services”

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The NHS will publish complaints categorised by hospital, GPs will publish more details of their prescribing practices and from November criminal courts will publish what sentences they have handed down - with details of the defendant's age, gender and ethnicity - but not their names.

Reoffending rates, roadworks information, cycle routes and information on car parks across the country will also be published.

Prime Minister David Cameron said, in a letter to cabinet colleagues, that transparency could be a "powerful tool to reform public services, foster innovation and empower citizens." He said the plans represented "the most ambitious open data agenda of any government in the world".

Mr Maude said: "The new commitments represent a quantum leap in government transparency and will radically help to drive better public services."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell, for Labour, said: "Labour has always been committed to government transparency.

"That is why we passed the Freedom of Information Act, which gave individuals new rights to access government information."

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