Monday, June 30, 2008

Scottish Executive considering extending FOI (Scotland) Act

Press release
The prospect of extending the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act to cover more organisations carrying out certain public functions has been raised.

Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford said the Government is committed to fully exploring the issues around coverage but stressed that a final decision on extending coverage would be taken only after consultation with interested parties and those organisations potentially affected.

As a first step, Mr Crawford will have discussions with interested parties about bringing within the scope of the Act the following organisations:
  • Registered social landlords
  • Contractors who provide public services that are a function of a public authority (for example, contractors providing prison services)
  • Local authority trusts or bodies set up by local authorities (for example, bodies set up by local authorities as limited companies to run leisure facilities)

Full press release.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ICO orders release of information relating to 2nd runway at Stansted

Press release 24 June 2008
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered the Department for Transport (DfT) to release information relating to the proposal for a second runway at Stansted airport, under the Environmental Information Regulations.

The Department for Transport refused to release the information on the grounds that the documents relate to the formulation of government policy which resulted in the 2003 White Paper on air transport...

The Information Commissioner acknowledged that the timing of a freedom of information request is an important consideration where different policy options are being examined and debated. However, the ICO notes that in this case DfT’s decision to withhold the information was made nearly two years after the White Paper was published. In the Information Commissioner’s view there was therefore little risk of disclosure prejudicing the policy-making process as the Government’s policy choices had already been set out.

The Information Commissioner believes that the disclosure of information relating to policy formulation can be valuable in helping to inform public debate and encourage transparency in relation to the decision making process.
The press release also comments that the ICO's investigation was unnecessarily delayed by the DfT continually requesting additional time. An Information Notice was issued by the ICO requesting details of the efforts the Department had made to locate the requested information.

Read the full press release and decision notice.
Information Commissioner & Tribunal Decisions

The Campaign for Freedom of Information is running a half-day training course on 'Information Commissioner & Tribunal Decisions' in London on 21 July 2008 and Birmingham on 24 July 2008.

The course, which is aimed at those with a good working knowledge of the legislation, highlights key developments in the way the main exemptions, the public interest test and the legislation's procedural requirements are being interpreted.

Download the course leaflet and booking form.