MP proposes stronger FoI

Seeks to remove ministerial veto

A 10 minute rule bill will press for tougher Freedom of Information legislation.

The Freedom of Information (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, to be introduced on 12 June, will seek to remove the veto which permits ministers to overrule decisions of the Information Commissioner's Office and Information Tribunal.

The bill will aim to limit the time allowed for public authorities to respond to requests involving consideration of the public interest and to amend the definition of public authorities. It will also try to bring school academies and large private contractors working for public authorities within the scope of the legislation.

Led by Tom Brake MP, the Liberal Democrat local government spokesperson, the bill's introduction comes at a potentially critical time for the Act.

The Office of Government Commerce is currently locked in a legal battle with the Information Commissioner's Office over releasing details of its Gateway Review of the National Identity Card Programme, and has lodged an appeal to the High Court. Last month MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Act under a private members' bill introduced by David Maclean MP.

"This bill will give MPs an opportunity to prove that, after the debacle of just a few weeks ago over David Maclean's bill, we are serious about strengthening FoI legislation," said Brake. "Members must show that they will take a firm stand against any attempts to water down existing legislation."

The bill has the support of FoI campaigners Norman Baker MP and Simon Hughes MP.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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