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The Culture of SecrecyBritain 1832-1998$
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David Vincent

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203070.001.0001

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Secrecy and Reform, 1972–1989

Secrecy and Reform, 1972–1989

(p.248) Chapter Six Secrecy and Reform, 1972–1989
The Culture of Secrecy

David Vincent

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the reform of secrecy. At the beginning of the fourth volume of his 1972 report, Lord Franks recorded a moment of enlightenment. The ‘doctrine of implicit authorisation’ might appear to conflict with the terms of both the 1911 Act and the declarations which were signed on entering and leaving government employment. Lord Franks' penetration of the mystery of official secrecy marked not the invention of the doctrine but rather its arrival in the public arena. The difficulty of establishing a consistent perspective on the magnitude of the need for reform was compounded by three particular characteristics of the debate. The new public management could provide the lever for finally prising apart honour and secrecy. The strategy of merging customer, client, and citizen was all too often frustrated by precisely the claim to control private secrets which had first given rise to it. The state's role in the shifting world of secrecy and privacy was marked in 1989 by two centenary enactments. The Act of 1989 was a measure of the Conservatives' entrenched reluctance to weaken the authority of the state. The secrecy of keeping secrets remained in place.

Keywords:   secrecy, reform, Lord Franks, honour, customer, client, citizen, secrets, Act of 1989

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