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Read these briefing documents!



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Links to Parliamentary debates on the Freedom of Information Bill and relevant select committee reports are below. These links will open in a new browser window, so you will not leave this page.


Brief critique of the Bill


-> Peers brief guide to the FOI Bill
  Short outline for Peers of what is wrong in the FOI Bill. Produced 10 April 2000
-> FOI Bill: Lords Third Reading Briefing   76 kb
  Briefing for the Lords Third Reading Stage of the Freedom of Information Bill on 22nd November, containing notes on selected amendments which the Campaign supported. It also explains in more detail why the Campaign does not accept the claim made by the Liberal Democrat peers that their amendments to clause 2 effectively transform the bill's class exemptions into 'prejudice' exemptions.
-> FOI Bill: Report Stage Briefing   52 kb
  Briefing for the Lords Report Stage of the Freedom of Information Bill on 14th and 15th November explaining why the Campaign is deeply disappointed at the agreement apparently reached between the Liberal Democrats and the government. It also describes some of the key amendments.
-> BSE and Secrecy: Implications for the FOI Bill   76 kb
  Briefing paper setting out some of the BSE Inquiry's findings about secrecy and the implications for the Freedom of Information Bill.
-> Lords committee stage: Collected briefings on FOI Bill   424 kb
  Complete set of detailed briefing papers for the Lords committee stage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which ended on 25 October 2000. For a short summary of the key issues see pages 1-5 of the first briefing paper.
-> FOI Bill: Guide to amendments for Lords committee stage   104 kb
  Guide to amendments tabled for the Lords committee stage of the Freedom of Information Bill, the first day of which will take place on 17 October.
-> Notes on Government amendments for Lords committee stage
  The government's amendments for the Lords committee stage of the FOI Bill appeared on the internet on July 31. No date has yet been set for the committee stage to begin.
-> Publication of Welsh Cabinet minutes "shatters taboo"
  Press release welcoming the publication of the minutes of the Welsh Cabinet, just 6 weeks after the meeting took place, 26 April 2000.
-> FOI Bill: Briefing for Lords second reading   192 kb
  Briefing for Peers for the second reading of the Freedom of Information in the House of Lords on 20 April.
-> Labour Party commitments to FoI over the years   108 kb
  This updated guide to Labour commitments to Freedom of Information includes pledges from six successive election manifestos; details of Labour sponsors of backbench FOI bills and extracts from speeches and articles by Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Gordon Brown, Lord Irvine, Peter Mandelson, Robin Cook, David Clark and others. Updated 12 September 2000
-> How the FOI Bill should be improved
  Briefing for MPs for the Report Stage debate on the Freedom of Information Bill, 4 & 5 April.
-> FOI Bill Committee Stage : Collected Briefings   688 kb
  Complete set of briefing papers (1-10) on amendments tabled to the Freedom of Information Bill during its Committee Stage. Produced 9 February 2000
-> Briefing for Second Reading Debate on FOI Bill   116 kb
  This briefing for MPs and the media was prepared for the second reading of the Freedom of Information Bill in the House of Commons on 7 December 1999.
-> Scotland overtakes UK on FOI
  Press release welcoming the fact that the Scottish Executive's proposals on FOI reject key elements of the flawed UK Bill, 25 November 1999.
-> Flawed Bill must be improved!    570 kb
  This leaflet highlights the weaknesses of the FOI Bill and encourages to write to their MP about it. Feel free to reproduce and circulate this leaflet.
-> Queen's Speech Briefing
  This briefing note for MPs, Peers and the media deals with two main concerns: 'class' exemptions, and the fact that ministers and authorities, not the Information Commissioner, will have the final word on whether information is disclosed in the public interest.
-> "Substantial defects" remain in FOI proposals
  Responding to the government's announcement of the amendments it will make to its draft Freedom of Information Bill, and warning that "substantial defects" still remain in the proposals.
-> Select committee recommendations "would transform weak Information Bill"
  Press release warmly welcoming two select committee reports which separately call for the government's draft Freedom of Information Bill to be substantially improved.
-> Evidence on the draft Bill to the Public Administration Committee    312 kb
  The Campaign's response to the draft FoI Bill, which deals in detail with our main concerns. These include exemptions without harm tests, no public interest override to enable the Commissioner to order disclosure, and giving authorities the right to pry into an applicant's reasons for asking for the information. There are two submissions to the select committee, dated 22 June and 23 July 1999, combined into this one document.
-> 25 organisations call for "radical overhaul" of the draft FoI bill
  Joint press release with Charter88, with statements of support from 23 other organisations, calling for a complete overhaul of the "deeply flawed" draft Freedom of Information bill.
-> Campaign's press response to the FoI draft bill
  The Campaign has said that the government's Freedom of Information bill is "Deeply disappointing" and "weaker than the Conservatives' openness code"
-> Read the draft FoI bill on the Lord Chancellor's Department website.
-> History of the Issue
  A short history of the issue, from the passing of the Official Secrets Act in 1911 to the present.
-> Tony Blair's speech to the Campaign's annual Awards
  Given in March 1996 when Leader of the Opposition, Tony Blair told the Campaign that, "A Freedom of Information Act is not just important in itself. It is part of bringing our politics up to date, of letting politics catch up with the aspirations of people and delivering not just more open but more effective and efficient government for the future."
-> Countries with Freedom of Information Acts
  Details of countries which have already passed FoI laws.
-> Conference on the FoI white paper   364 kb
  The full transcript - just published - of a 1998 conference on the FoI white paper with contributions from UK and international speakers, including Dr David Clark, then the minister responsible, who said the white paper "has the complete and utter endorsement of the Government as a whole... This is isn't something that is going to be watered down as we progress along the way." Will he be proved right?
-> Briefing on the Macpherson report and FoI   128 kb
  This briefing was produced for a House of Commons debate held on 30 March 1999. MPs were debating the government's response to the Macpherson Report on the death of Stephen Lawrence. The briefing highlights how the government has rejected key elements of the report's recommendations on Freedom of Information.
-> Briefing for Debate on FoI Bill introduced by Lord Lucas of Crudwell   196 kb
  This briefing was produced for peers for the second reading debate on the Freedom of Information Bill drafted by the Campaign and introduced by the Conservative peer, Lord Lucas of Crudwell. The Bill received its second reading on 10 February 1999. The Bill itself can be read on the Stationery Office website.
-> Briefing for House of Commons Debate on FoI
  This briefing was produced for MPs and the media for a debate on Freedom of Information held in the House of Commons on 6 July 1998. As well as reiterating the Campaign's warm welcome for the white paper, it outlines our grave concerns about more recent developments.
-> Response to the Government's FoI Proposals   228 kb
  The Campaign's response, published in March 1998, to the government's white paper on FoI. This detailed paper also incorporates the Campaign's evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee in January 1998.

Pre white paper briefings

-> Checklist   56 kb
  This Checklist was published in December 1997, before the white paper appeared, and suggests key points to look for in the government's proposals.
-> Key Issues   111 kb
  This paper discusses a number of issues including access to civil service policy advice, a public interest override for exemptions, and charges for information.
-> Testing the Open Government Code of Practice
  The 'Code of Practice on Access to Government Information' came into force on April 4, 1994. The government promises to release information on request unless it is covered by one of 15 broad exemptions. Dissatisfied applicants can complain, via an MP, to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. A separate code applying to the NHS came into force in June 1995. The Codes are not legally binding and fall short of a Freedom of Information Act but should provide opportunities for access to some previously withheld information. This briefing by the Campaign is designed to encourage people to test the Code - both to benefit from any improvements, and to reveal its shortcomings.



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