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It claims to be nothing but a private landed estate and so is exempt from the Freedom of Informations Act as is every other private company or organisation. However even the the quickest of research will soon show that this feudal relic has constitutional powers that enable it to intervene in the governmental decision making process. So, constitutional governmental powers that can effect our lives yet zero transparency. A totally unacceptable situation I hope you willl agree.
After e-mails sent to various bodies dealing with the freedom of information Lydia Medland of Access Info Europe very kindly responded with the following thoughts and questions that may be of interest to people trying to get a stright answer from our crooked Duchy.
Regarding FOI Requests
* Are there certain classes of information or documents that you are lacking? If so what specific information do you think should be made public? (expenses, budgets, reports, communication with public officials etc)
Regarding a possible campaign. If you want to call for certain things to be changed, I have the following questions, which would help you decide whether to approach the Duchy with your concerns directly or whether you want to hold a public campaign, or both.
* Are you more concerned about highlighting the what you feel are the current problems or do you want to campaign for more transparency?
If you want to campaign for transparency rather you could consider the following.
* Do you want the Duchy to be included under FOI? - how would you call for that?
* Do you want it to publish certain documents? How would you recommend which documents you would like to see made public pro-actively?
* Would you recommend that the Duchy adopt its own transparency policy similar to FOI? This could be a possibility if it appears too difficult in the short term for the institution to be included under FOI. I would recommend looking at the example of the World Bank who have adopted their own transparency policy which is effectively an access to information policy for the institution. Proposing this might well involve a public campaign and dialogue with the Duchy.
I understand that the preference is for all information to be published however it could be useful to identify specific classes of information of public interest and to call for commitments from the Duchy to respond to information requests from the public. See Annex A of the paper by Helen Darbishire on proactive publication for ideas of the types of information you might want to demand.
People working on the Duchy issue might like to contact the following organisations for further help and advice: Access Info Europe, Freedom of Information Advocates Network, Freedominfo.org, The Centre for the Freedom of Information, The Campaign for the Freedom of Information, The Open Knowledge Foundation, Confirm or Deny, Your Right to Know. To learn more about the Freedom of Information Act in the UK try here, and to make requests for information via the internet use WhatDoTheyKnow.com.
In order to be able to offer the most comprehensive range of points of view about the matter I am planning to interview spokepersons of political parties, professors of law and experts on devolution in Scotland, Wales and England.
One of my main objectives for my dissertation is showing the opinion of Cornish parties and pressure groups. Everybody talks about devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but nobody takes into account Cornwall and its demands.
I am trying to get in contact with leading experts on the matter, and I would be very grateful if someone from Radio Free Cornwall could answer a few questions about the topic (their opinion on devolution, objectives, demands...). It is critical that I speak with all the political parties and pressure groups, as I want to present all the different points of view about the matter. The questions I was planning to ask are the following:
- Despite in 2000-2001 up to 50,000 people signed a petition for a national Assembly, Cornwall is still being treated just as another region of England and not as a nation at the same level as Scotland or Wales. Why?
- In your opinion which are the factors that shape Cornish identity?
- How do you think Cornwall should be governed and why? Do you think Cornwall should have an Assembly with the same powers as the Welsh National Assembly, a Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament, or should become fully independent?
- What do you think of devolution? Do you think Cornish want a bigger degree of devolution?
- Recently a new concept of ‘englishness’ has evolved, whereby England demands a national Parliament and the same powers as other devolved nations within the UK such as Wales or Scotland. How does Cornwall fit in this newly born 'englishness'? If England succeeded in its demands for an English Parliament, would you like Cornwall to be governed from this English Parliament as a first step towards further devolution?
- Why the Cornish quest for recognition as a nation within the UK doesn’t have a big coverage in the media?
- Do you think the South West Regional Assembly and the South West Regional Development Agency bring any advantage to Cornwall?
- Would Cornwall be able to exist as an independent nation? Is its economy strong enough to support a hypothetical independent country?
I have contacted the major parties and formations and so far have received positive answers from Mebyon Kernow and the Cornish Constitutional Convention. However, I am also interested in what Cornish feel, not just what political parties fight for. That is the reason why I also contacted you. Your opinion is very interesting and it will provide me with another point of view from a collective outside the politics.
I really appreciate your help and cooperation. I'm very interested on the Cornish question. We foreigners -I'm Spanish- generally don't even know about the existence of Cornish demands for further powers. We only know about Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland...
Thank you very much once again!
Atlas of Stateless Nations in Europe: Minority People in Search of Recognition.
For all those interested in promoting a St Pirans day bank holiday for Kernow, and of course preventing a St Georges day being imposed on us, then please contact the government and let them know what you think. People might also consider opposing the scrapping of the May Day bank holiday. The email contact of governments consultation is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit this site and VOTE for Cornish Devolution: Digital Democracy - Vote on top campaigns. The campaign does not need more supporters but votes instead. For reasons as to why it would be good to win this read my previous blog post on the subject here. To vote you must log in to the site, click on the VOTE button at the top of the screen and then click on a green YES button next to the Cornish Devolution campaign.
Equally you also have the opportunity to give your priorities to Unlock Democracy for future directions they should take in their campaigning. Fill in the survey and give a Cornish point of view: Unlock Democracy Members' and Supporters’ Survey