Freedom of Information charges ruled out after review

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Freedom of Information charges ruled out after review

Post  candyfloss on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 8:01 am

This should please some Smile

Freedom of Information charges ruled out after review

Ministers have chosen not to introduce fees for Freedom of Information (FOI) requests following a review of the law.

An independent commission was asked to examine it amid concerns within government that "sensitive information" was being inadequately protected.

FOI, used by campaigners and journalists to ask questions of public bodies, was "working well", Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock said.

He said there were new plans to require public bodies to reveal staff expenses.

The full findings of the review are due to be published later, but speaking ahead of its release, Mr Hancock said there would be no wholesale changes to the FOI Act.

"After 10 years, we took the decision to review the Freedom of Information Act and we have found it is working well," he said.

"We will not make any legal changes to FOI. We will spread transparency throughout public services, making sure all public bodies routinely publish details of senior pay and perks.

"After all, taxpayers should know if their money is funding a company car or a big pay-off."

'Deep suspicion'

The government has chosen not to legislate to shore up ministers' powers to veto the release of information.

BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins says campaigners, opposition politicians and many journalists regarded the independent review of FOI legislation with deep suspicion, concerned the government wanted to curtail a law that allowed them to reveal embarrassing facts about its failings.

Some regular users of the law remain anxious about whether it will be easier for institutions to rule that information requests are too burdensome to be met, he says.

But on the other side of this argument, he adds, the cost of providing information will continue to trouble some public bodies with little money and few staff to spare.

Blair's regret

The Freedom of Information Act, which was introduced in 2000 under then Prime Minister Tony Blair, allows a public "right of access" to information held by public authorities.

It obliges public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and UK-wide authorities based in Scotland, to publish certain information about their activities, and to respond to requests for information.

It has been used to reveal information in a number of high-profile incidents, including the MPs' expenses scandal and Prince Charles's lobbying letters to ministers.

Mr Blair has described himself as a "naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop" for introducing the law, saying: "There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it."


Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.......... Dr Seuss

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