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Still time today to sign the Freedom of Information Act petition

There is still time left, until midnight today, to sign The Green Ribbon blogger Tom Griffin's petition on the Number 10 Downing Street website, opposed to the Department for Constitutional Affairs plans to further restrict the Freedom of Information Act:


We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reject the restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act proposed by the Department of Constitutional Affairs. More details


The proposed changes will restrict the number of requests individuals and organisations can make, and allow Government Department to include 'reading time' in fees calculations, greatly increasing the scope for obstruction of legitimate requests. As the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee concluded, there is no need to change the existing fees regime. Indeed, the cost of the Freedom of Information Act is less than was originally projected by the Government, and the transparency provided by the Act can only benefit efficient government.


There are at least 1,548 signatories of this petition, which must represent a significant proportion of the people who do actually bother to make Freedom of Information Act requests.


Signatures: 1,601

Interesting to note the comments made in the following written answer from the DCA.


Does this blow a hole in the reasons for this change to the FOI act.

Vera Baird (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs) | Hansard source

The Freedom of Information Act requires each case to be assessed on its individual merits. Departments do not collect information on requestor type, including Members of Parliament.

The quarterly statistical reports published by my Department contain information on the implementation of FOI in central Government, including the number of requests received, the timeliness of responses, and the outcomes of requests.

The Government's response to this petition has now been published:


The Government recognises the importance of public participation and understanding of the functions of Government. The intention of the changes proposed is not to hinder legitimate requests for information or to reduce the effectiveness of the Act. An independent review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to look at the impact of the Freedom of Information Act showed that a small minority of requests and a small minority of requestors account for disproportionate amounts of the cost of answering FOI requests. The proposals are designed to address this issue and to ensure public authorities can balance access to information for all with the delivery of other public services.

On 14 December 2006 the Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, opened a public consultation on the draft fee regulations. The Government is keen to engage as many stakeholders aspossible in this consultation. The consultation paper is available at: http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/dpr2007/cp2806.htm. Responses should be sent by 8 March 2007 to:

Department for Constitutional Affairs
Information Rights Division
6.16 Selborne House
54-60 Victoria Street

email: informationrights@dca.gsi.gov.uk

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