Open government remains closed

"The worst fears about the effectiveness of the Government's Freedom of Information Act have been confirmed," according to the Independent.

Every excuse available to the government under the Act has been used to withhold information, such as "the mother of all get-out clauses - the ill-defined ban on the release of 'information pertaining to the formation of policy'. As we feared, this can be used to refer to virtually every official document in Whitehall."

The Independent argues that the government has missed a valuable opportunity to regain the trust of the public.

You may ask questions - but the Government still has the freedom not to answer them (The Independent, leader, 2 February 2005)

Meanwhile, 10 Downing Street's website proclaims the beginning of "a new era in the relationship between citizen and state". Lord Falconer is quoted as saying: "Across the 100,000 public bodies covered by the Act, a huge amount of information has been released. We have sown the seeds of cultural change towards a Government at all levels that is more open, transparent and accountable."

Lord Falconer hails first month of FOI as a success (10 Downing Street website, 2 February 2005)