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Refusal to weaken FOI Act welcomed but opportunity missed to give it more strength

Government must now release further detail on proposals

1st March 2016 – London – The UK Government’s announcement today that it will not be seeking to water down the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is a positive signal that it is keeping to its stated open governance agenda.

No major changes to the law have been announced that could weaken this vital act, although Transparency International UK (TI-UK) believes that the failure to extend the Act to the private providers of public services is a missed opportunity.

Meanwhile the dismissal of plans to introduce charges for FOI requests is a very encouraging step, and the government now needs to make a full response on the Commission’s proposals, particularly in relation to the Ministerial veto on requests.

Robert Barrington, TI-UK Executive Director said:

“The FOI act is an extremely important tool to ensure institutions and officials are accountable to the public, and to detect and deter corrupt behaviour. There were fears in many quarters that the UK Government would seek to water down FOI Act and it is good news that this no longer seems to be the intention.”

“However extending FOI to the private providers of public services is a crucial test of how serious the government is on being truly open and transparent. The absence of any announcement on this is a missed opportunity and we strongly recommend that it is included in the government’s forthcoming Open Governance Partnership Action Plan.”

“There are also continuing concerns over how the government intends to use the Ministerial veto on FOI requests and its proposed role for the Courts in this process. Ahead of the Prime Minister’s planned Anti-Corruption Summit in May, further clarification is needed before the UK can say it has its own house in order.”

 

ENDS

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Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

 

Press Contact:

 Dominic Kavakeb

020 3096 7695/ 0796 456 0340

dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk

 

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