The Freedom of Information Act is being reviewed by a parliamentary committee which is likely to recommend changes to the law. This could be an important opportunity to improve the Act. But there will also be significant pressure for new restrictions from public authorities concerned about the cost of dealing with FOI requests or lobbying for new exemptions.
If you would like to contribute to the exercise, it is important to act quickly. The deadline for submitting evidence to the committee is 3 February 2012. The Campaign for Freedom of Information is holding a briefing meeting on January 18 at 2 pm for those who are considering giving evidence.
This ‘post legislative scrutiny’ of the Act is being carried out by Justice select committee of the House of Commons. It has been prompted by the Ministry of Justice which has published a memorandum highlighting specific areas of concern, including:
· Increasing request volumes
· The cost to public authorities and impact on resources
· The difficulty in refusing vexatious requests
· The level of protection given to policy advice and cabinet papers
· The impact on public authorities with commercial functions
The memorandum also:
· Acknowledges delays can occur in conducting public interest tests and carrying out internal reviews
· Discusses the possible extension of the Act to other bodies.
The memorandum says there is “limited evidence” about requesters’ views on the Act. It is therefore important that the select committee hears from requesters and we strongly encourage you to submit evidence about your experiences.
If you would like to attend the Campaign’s briefing meeting on January 18 please rsvp by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @CampaignFOI or by telephoning the office on 020 7831 7477. We would be grateful if you could circulate details of the meeting to any colleagues or contacts you think may interested.