Secretive government departments to be named and shamed

According to the Independent, Whitehall departments that consistently reject requests to see confidential documents under the new freedom of information legislation will be publicly "named and shamed": every six months a report will be published which lists the number of requests for information that have been turned down by each government department. This will reveal which ministers are being open and which are keeping their documents secret.

The Independent also reports that a senior Conservative MP, Julian Lewis, has accused the UK Information Commissioner of being "a government lapdog and not a watchdog" and asked him to consider resigning over the controversy surrounding the shredding of thousands of documents by Whitehall departments on the eve of the new legislation coming into force. Lewis accused Richard Thomas of "immediately rushing to the Government's defence" after Mr Thomas said there was "no hard evidence" that files were being shredded, despite a huge rise in the number of government papers destroyed across Whitehall.

Secretive departments to be blacklisted (The Independent, 1 January 2005)

Lord Falconer also defended Whitehall's actions. In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he stated: "Good document management requires that after a period of time you get rid of it. It is very unfair to characterise it as being an attempt to thwart the Act - it is trying to get documents in order [...] I am convinced that the laws which take effect today will make government more open, and the balances we have built into the system will ensure that effectiveness is not compromised. Good government is open government, and good government is effective government."

Right to information becomes law (BBC website, 1 January 2005)