Thursday, March 22, 2007

Full text of Lord Falconer's speech

The DCA has released the full text of the speech given by Lord Falconer at the Lord Williams of Mostyn Memorial Lecture last night. Interestingly, on the proposed changes to the FOI fees regime, Lord Falconer said "we are consulting on whether it is right to include reading, consideration and consultation time" (emphasis added). This statement contrasts with the consultation document, which only sought views on the draft regulations themselves.

Martin Rosenbaum over on Open Secrets has commented on another part of the speech, in which Lord Falconer talked about the proposal to allow authorities to aggregate unrelated requests for the purpose of calculating the cost limit. Lord Falconer said that if the requests were "genuinely different then aggregation should not apply". This isn't, however, what the draft regulations say.

Today's Independent has a further article and leader on the lecture:

Freedom of Information Act misused, says Falconer

Leading article: The retreat from open government

1 comment:

Richard Martin said...

The Independent asserts: 'The Lord Chancellor's argument is weak all round. "There is a right to know, not a right to tell," he asserts. What on earth does this mean? Is he suggesting that information is only released by officialdom on the understanding that the recipients keep it to themselves?'

The newspaper's own comments, while understandable, do reflect a general lack of awareness of the broader field of information rights. The FOIA (so too the EIR) establishes a right of access to public sector information, not a right to use it. The latter is governed by the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005, which have failed to receive the same degree of media coverage as the FOIA. The right to re-use often carries a financial cost. For further guidance, refer to the OPSI web site.