Archives for royal family

Campaign criticises government veto proposals

The Campaign for Freedom of Information today criticised the government’s statement that it would seek to strengthen minister’s powers to veto decisions under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The announcement was made in a lobby briefing in the run up to today’s publication of Prince Charles’ correspondence with government departments. The material had been sought by the Guardian newspaper under the FOI Act.
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Welcome for Supreme Court’s ruling on the ministerial veto in Prince Charles case

The Campaign for Freedom of Information welcomed today’s Supreme Court ruling that ministers cannot veto decisions of the Tribunal that deals with FOI cases merely because they disagree with them. The judgment followed the Attorney General’s attempt to block disclosure of Prince Charles’ correspondence with government departments. The Upper Tribunal had ordered disclosure after Guardian journalist Rob Evans had requested it. The correspondence will now have to be disclosed.
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Court of Appeal ruling strengthens FOI Act

The Campaign for Freedom of Information welcomed today’s Court of Appeal ruling overturning the government’s veto of an Upper Tribunal decision ordering the release of Prince Charles’ correspondence with ministers.  The Guardian had applied for the correspondence under the Freedom of Information Act. The Upper Tribunal, which deals with high level FOI appeals, had ordered disclosure, but the Attorney General had vetoed the tribunal’s decision.
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FOI veto gives ministers too much power

The High Court has today upheld the use of a ministerial veto to block the disclosure of Prince Charles’ correspondence with government departments. The Upper Tribunal had ruled that the government was required to disclose this correspondence to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act. That decision was vetoed. The High Court has today dismissed the Guardian’s judicial review of that veto.
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Criticism for government veto over release of Prince Charles’ lobbying correspondence

The government’s decision to veto the disclosure of Prince Charles’ correspondence lobbying ministers was criticised by the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

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Post legislative scrutiny of the FOI Act

The Campaign has welcomed the Justice Committee’s report on post-legislative scrutiny of the FOI Act, which rejects charging for FOI requests or new restrictions on access to policy discussions in Whitehall. The Campaign made two written submissions to the Committee and gave oral evidence at the Committee’s first hearing on 21 February 2012. You can watch a recording of the session or read an uncorrected transcript of it.

Our initial submission described some areas where the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations are not working as well as they should and suggested a number of improvements such as the introduction of statutory time limits for public interest extensions and internal reviews and the lifting of some absolute exemptions. It also addressed the contracting out of public authority functions to bodies which are not subject to the Act. Recent measures to encourage this process are likely to substantially undermine the public’s rights to information. Finally, it responded to suggestions that changes to the right of access may be introduced to protect cabinet papers, introduce fees for making requests or to make it easier for public authorities to refuse requests on costs grounds. The Campaign made a supplementary submission to the Committee addressing some of the points about the Act’s exemption for policy advice made by Lord O’Donnell and Jack Straw in their evidence to the Committee. This supplementary submission also provided examples of excessive or wasteful spending revealed by FOI, which suggest the Act is likely to play an important role in exposing and deterring excessive spending, which is generally not taken into account when assessing the ‘costs’ of FOI.

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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Concern over new freedom of information exemptions

The Campaign for Freedom of Information welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement today that the Freedom of Information Act would be extended to additional bodies and that the 30 year period before old official papers are made public would be reduced to 20 years. This was a substantial step, the Campaign said, even if it did not go as far as the 15 year period recommended by the Dacre Review earlier this year.

However it expressed serious concern at Mr Brown’s announcement that new exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act would be introduced for Cabinet Papers and for information relating to the Royal Family.

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