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Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
HC 96-I, First Report of Session 2012-13 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes
- House of Commons - Justice Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
Some former Ministers and senior civil servants argue that Freedom of Information (FOI) is having a 'chilling effect' on policy discussion at the heart of government; 'Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (HC 96-1)' recognises that the existing provisions of the Act could be used more effectively, including the use of the ministerial veto, to ensure a "safe space" for high-level policy discussions.
The number of FOI requests is growing and some witnesses suggested introducing fees for FOI. However, while FOI imposes costs, it also creates savings when the inappropriate use of public funds is uncovered, or where fear of disclosure prevents the waste of public money.
Setting fees could deter requests with a strong public interest and therefore defeat the purposes of the Act. Fees introduced purely for commercial and media organisations could also be circumvented.
Recommendations of the report include:
Higher fines should be imposed for the destruction of information or data, and the time limit should be removed on the prosecution of these offences.
The law should be amended to protect universities from having to disclose data before the related research has been published.
All public bodies subject to the Act should be required to publish data on the timeliness of their response to freedom of information requests.
The right to access information must not be undermined by the increased use of private providers in delivering public services, contracts for private providers should be explicit and enforceable in stipulating FOI obligations.
Where public authorities publish disclosure logs, the names of those requesting information should also be included.
|Format||Paperback||Published||26 Jul 2012|
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