The Information Commissioner Richard Thomas gave evidence to the Constitutional Affairs Committee about the likely impact of the government's fees proposals on his office and public authorities. The evidence session was broadcast on Parliament Live and an archive is available to watch. The Commissioner's comments have been covered by The Independent and Guardian:
Plans to curb access to freedom of information would be 'unworkable' - IndependentToday's papers also contain extracts of a speech Lord Falconer will give this evening at The Lord Williams of Mostyn Memorial Lecture:
"The Government's proposals to reduce access to Britain's freedom of information laws will be unworkable and add to the bureaucracy of Whitehall, the legislation's independent watchdog has warned. Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, says he has "grave doubts" over measures aimed at curbing the right of MPs, campaign groups and the media to use the powers. In response to Labour's rethink on freedom of information, Mr Thomas also predicted that the proposed change to the rules would lead to a "surge" of difficult complaints to his office."
MPs warned over curbs on freedom of information - Guardian
"Plans to curb people's ability to ask for data from the state under the Freedom of Information Act will "significantly reduce" the number of disclosures in the public interest, MPs were warned yesterday. Richard Thomas, the information commissioner, in effect called on the government to drop the plans, telling the constitutional affairs committee that the proposed curbs "will introduce new layers of procedural and bureaucratic complexity"."
'Freedom of information for the public' - Daily Mail
"Freedom of information is mainly for the public and not the press, the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer is due to say. "People not the press must be the priority. There is a right to know, not a right to tell," he is set to say. In delivering the Lord Williams of Mostyn memorial lecture, Lord Falconer also insists the Government is fully committed to openness."
'Openness is 'for public, not press' - Metro
"Whitehall has been opened up 'in ways unimagined, unattempted and unrealised by any previous Government', Lord Falconer will say when he delivers the Lord Williams of Mostyn memorial lecture...'We need to strike the right balance, whether it is in the courts over data or in relation to FoI requests.'"