Archives for policy formulation

New FOI commission heralds “crackdown on the right to know”

A major attack on the public’s right to information is likely following the government’s announcement today of a new Commission to review the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information. The Commission has been asked to consider whether new measures are needed to protect the government’s internal discussions from disclosure and to reduce the ‘burden’ of the FOI Act.

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FOI and policy advice

The Campaign has published this briefing explaining how the Information Commissioner and Tribunal have protected the ‘safe space’ and genuinely frank discussions from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
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Gove comments indicate government plans to weaken FOI

The Campaign for Freedom of Information expressed concern at today’s Commons statement by the Justice Secretary Michael Gove saying that the government would “revisit” the Freedom of Information Act to ensure that civil servants’ advice to ministers was protected so they could “speak candidly”.
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Welcome for select committee’s rejection of FOI charges and restrictions on release of policy discussions

A major review of the Freedom of Information Act which rejects charging for FOI requests or new restrictions on access to policy discussions in Whitehall has been warmly welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information which said the report “would preserve and strengthen the important advances made by the FOI Act”.

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No limits on freedom of information? What about the 13 pages of exemptions

This letter by the Campaign was published by The Guardian on 18 July 2012, in response to an article by the commentator Simon Jenkins.

Simon Jenkins takes a hefty swing at the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that its “total disclosure” damages good government. (For the digital revolution, this is the Robespierre moment, 10 July). But there is no “total disclosure” under FOI as anyone who has grappled with the act’s 13 pages of exemptions knows.

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No need for more cabinet secrecy

Letter to The Times responding to comments made by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary, that the Freedom of Information Act should be amended to provide greater protection for cabinet papers.

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Welcome for decision to drop proposed cabinet papers exemption

The government’s announcement that it has dropped its proposal to exempt cabinet papers from the Freedom of Information Act, and that it will reduce the 30 year rule to 20 years, was welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information today.

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Government uses veto again

The government has issued a second veto, preventing the disclosure of information under the FOI Act. This follows the veto in February 2009 of cabinet minutes relating to the war in Iraq. The present case involves a request to see the minutes of the 1997 meetings of the cabinet subcommittee on devolution in Scotland, Wales and the English regions. The committee had been chaired by Lord Irvine, the then Lord Chancellor.

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Policy advice released after months not decades

A version of this article by the Campaign’s director, Maurice Frankel, appeared in Press Gazette on 2 May 2008.

In the past, officials’ advice to ministers, and the discussions leading to it, have been confidential. You could see it after 30 years, but not before. The Freedom of Information Act has shattered that convention.

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Submission to the 30 year rule review

Response to the review of the 30 year rule that was set up by the Prime Minister. The response summarises the 7 Information Tribunal decisions to date dealing with advice or internal discussion and points out that in almost every case the Tribunal has held that disclosure should have taken place at the time of the request, a few years or months after the decision. It says that this material should now be proactively released after 15 years, though if necessary, the reduction could be brought in in two stages, starting with 20 years initially. This change would also mean that these exemptions could no longer be used to withhold information under the FOI Act once it was 15 (or 20) years old.