December 2006 Archives

Cross posted from the main Spy Blog:

If, like us, you are worried about the Government's planned restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act, as outlined in this Consultation:

Draft Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2007

you might want to sign this Pledge on PledgeBank:

"I will visit my MP in person to explain why I'm concerned about the possible changes to FOI rules but only if 2 other people in my constituency will come with me."

Deadline to sign up by: 1st March 2007

We have sent an email FOIA request to the Cabinet Office, which covers the Prime Minister's office, asking for the disclosure and publication of two Annual Reports, which are meant to be laid before Parliament each year:

  1. Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner for 2005, by the previous outgoing ICC, Rt. Hon . Sir Swinton Thomas.

  2. Report of the Intelligence Services Commissioner for 2005, by the previous outgoing ISC, Lord Justice Simon Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood.

This has not been done, even though Parliament has now risen for the Christmas recess.

Technically, the Prime Minister is now in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Our email:

We have had a reply, just within the 20 working days statutory limit to our FOIA request for the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, dealing with the United Nations Measures Order 2006, which was mentioned as being available on the HM Treasury website, but which plainly was not.

This lengthy and complicated set of far reaching powers, backed up with criminal penalties, are to enforce "freezing" of allegedly terrorist financial assets.

Since there has been no debate or scrutiny in Parliament about these extended bureaucratic red tape powers, one would have hoped that the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment might have made things clearer.

The RIA is available on the OPSI website and you can access it via the following link.

According to the (,pdf) meta data, this was created by the Privy Council on 11th October 2006, so why it has taken the Treasury so long to make it available is a mystery.

However, the document admits that there has been no actual consultation with anybody, and it makes unsubstantiated claims that there will be no impact or cost to , for example, small businesses, despite the wording being so catch-all as to encompass every "person" in the United Kingdom, both individuals and corporate entities.

We look forward to the other two, probably duplicated word for word, Partial Regulatory impact Assessments, for the other two, almost identical and overlapping United Nations Measures Orders, which mention the Taliban and AL Qaida (even though everyone covered under these financial sanctions will already be under the first United Nations Measures Order 2006), and North Korea, which is also a duplication of the other two Orders, both of which already automatically include anyone sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council anyway.

Confused ? Surely not, after all Gordon Brown has promised a "25% cut in red tape", some time in the future.

Why it took a formal Freedom of Information Act request to get sight of a document which was publicly promised to already have been published on-line in October, and which contains so little meaningful or believable detail, is a mystery to us.

The FOIA reply from the Treasury via email, as an attached (,pdf) file, with a (.tif) image scan of the Partial RIA:

About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog @spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver. - FOIA request submission and publication website from

Campaign Buttons

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond

Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Amnesty International 's campaign

Yes, Minister

Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

"Bernard Woolley: "Well, yes, Sir...I mean, it [open government] is the Minister's policy after all."
Sir Arnold: "My dear boy, it is a contradiction in terms: you can be open or you can have government."

FOIA Links

Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Office of the Information Commissioner,
who is meant to regulate the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Information Commissioner,
who similarly regulates the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2002

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

Spy Blog

UK Freedom of Information Act Blog - started by Steve Wood, now handed over to Katherine Gundersen

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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