Headlines: January 19th, 2007



Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden has strongly defended the Government’s determination to create a framework that will allow public bodies to share personal details of their customers. The need for data sharing has emerged from the Prime Minister’s policy review and public reaction is being sought in the citizens forums to be held next month across the country.

In a reference to details released earlier by the Cabinet Office which quoted a case where, following the death of a family member in a road accident, there were 44 contacts with government over 180 days, Pat McFadden said: “What the government is doing is asking whether we can do a better job for people, at critical moments in their lives, by making sure that one part of government talks to another when dealing with related issues.”

Responding to cynical reaction to projects designed to improve services to the public he said: “People’s empowerment is not going to go backwards. We cannot allow the belief to take hold that somehow government cannot be part of this change, that we should be frozen in time, that creative people can never suggest ideas or drive through projects to improve the quality of service to the public or make their lives better because someone says it won’t work.” He added: “It is fair that when Government gets it wrong we be criticized, but we must never let creativity and ambition be defeated by the default nostalgia that says things were always better in the past and it’s not worth trying to do things better in the future.”