Brown taken to Secrets Watchdog
The Treasury Macroeconomic Modelling team have finally decided that they won't give me a copy of the assumptions file for the 2005 budget. Hence I am taking Gordon Brown to the Information Commissioner.
Press release is as follows:
John Hemming MP has reported the Chancellor to the Secrets Watchdog for his failure to reveal budget calculations. John Hemming MP, a computer specialist, has hacked in to the Treasury's Economic Modelling Computer System. He has been told, however, that the calculations for the Budget are secret. He has therefore taken the Chancellor to the Secrets Watchdog (Information Commissioner) to get him to reveal his workings.
"When people do maths exams," he said, "they are supposed to provide the workings. The Civil Servants in the Treasury, however, are saying that their calculations are secret. I think they are wrong under the Freedom of Information act. What have they got to hide?"
The Treasury Macroeconomic Model computer system, used by Gordon Brown to create the 2005 Budget has been obtained by John Hemming MP. Mr. Brown makes assumptions about the economy and puts these into the Model as inputs. The model then creates an output: a picture of the British economy that Mr. Brown used to create his 2005 Budget.
Until John Hemming made a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, no one had bothered to analyse the inputs that Gordon Brown fed into his model; commentators on the budget had concentrated on what the Model churned out. These vitally important inputs describe the economic environment that Mr. Brown thinks he is working in. It includes, for instance, his assumptions about oil prices over the course of the year. He may have got this right; but he may also have got this wrong. If Mr. Brown is only slightly out in these assumptions, his whole 2005 Budget falls to pieces.
Gordon Brown has refused to give John Hemming these assumptions, because he thinks that it “would in future inhibit officials/experts in providing sufficiently free and frank advice”. John Hemming says, “I have a mandate from my constituents in Birmingham Yardley to hold this government to account. How am I to do my job if Mr. Brown plays hide-and-seek with his figures?”