Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's decision to veto the publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms is "permissible" and "not extraordinary" according to the Government's chief legal adviser.
In a direct clash with the Information Commissioner, who criticised Lansley's decision, Attorney General Dominic Grieve said the Health Secretary's veto was allowed.
'I don't think it can be said that what has been done is so unusual and so outside what the government has indicated it would do that it is in some way an extraordinary decision. It's quite clear the Act allows it to happen. If you look at what the rules and guidelines say, the government's decision is that [the decision] was completely compatible," he said.
"You can’t take controversy out of this type of area, it’s bound to have some controversial elements" he warned.
Grieve was speaking to the Commons justice committee on the implications of the Freedom of Information Act.
He warned MPs that there was a "possibility of a chilling effect" in publishing minutes from Cabinet meetings. Grieve said there was a "real risk" of decisions going un-recorded because people would be "so worried" about their remarks being made public.
The November 2010 Transition Risk Register set out internal Government assessments of the risks posed by the reforms in the Health and Social Care Act, which became law in March after a tortuous passage through Parliament.
Ministerial vetos have previously been used to prevent records of Cabinet discussions being made public.
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