Friday, May 25, 2007

Alistair Darling FOI letter

The Trade Secretary Alistair Darling has written to Lord Falconer expressing serious concern about the effects of FOI Act:
"I am concerned that the FOI Act, as it appears, prevents us from protecting robustly and across the board advice from officials to Ministers. Here again we should be able to guard more effectively against the incremental harm to the policy development process that must inevitably arise from the disclosure of individually innocuous submissions.
This is the type of information that, I believe, it was never the intention should be made public under an FOI Act. The problems seem to stem from the case by case approach that the Act requires us to take to FOI requests and a discernible trend within the Information Tribunal that decisions on the public interest test have not been falling in the government's favour in key cases. It is open to the government to appeal a decision to the High Court, but this must be on a point of law and is inevitably a costly and time consuming process. There have not yet been any circumstances where departments have felt able to take this approach and we appear to be faced for the future with either conceding to adverse decisions or exercising the Cabinet Minister veto to annul them."
The BBC has published the full letter.

See also:

Darling in call for FoI controls
- FT

Pointless requests must stop - Times

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