Feeds

Cabinet Secretary: FOI Act is stifling free policy debate

'Virtually everything subject to a public interest test'

Business security measures using SSL

Sir Gus O'Donnell told a committee of MPs on Wednesday that FOI laws had a "very negative impact on the freedom of policy discussions".

"The problem with the Freedom of Information Act is that virtually everything is subject to a public interest test," Sir Gus told the Public Administration Select Committee.

"When I give advice to anyone, when we have a conversation around the Cabinet table, I cannot guarantee to Cabinet Ministers that they can actually say without fear or favour if they disagree with something that that information will remain private, because there could be an FOI request," Sir Gus said.

The Freedom of Information Act and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act came into full force on 1 January 2005, giving individuals the right for the first time to demand access to information held by Government departments and public bodies.

Under the laws anyone of any nationality living anywhere in the world can make a written request for information and expect a response within 20 working days. The public authority will be obliged to meet that request unless exemptions apply or unless meeting it will be too costly or difficult.

Some information can be held back under qualified and absolute exemptions. However, where information can be withheld under a qualified exemption organisations are still obliged to conduct a 'public interest test' to determine whether it is right for information to be disclosed upon request.

Copyright © 2011, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.