Falconer hints at restrictions to FOI Act

Lord Falconer has hinted that he may be planning to restrict the flow of information to journalists. The Department of Constitutional Affairs has confirmed it is proceeding with a review of the fees regime, despite opposition from a watchdog committee of MPs. The review comes as ministers have expressed concern that officials are “spending huge amounts of time” searching for files.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, has warned that two changes may be considered which could restrict the flow of information. He told the Press Gazette that he feared one option was to lower the cost limit, which would lead to more requests for information being rejected.

Frankel said the other option was to allow public bodies, when assessing the cost of complying with requests, to take account of the time taken to read files to decide whether the information should be withheld, as well as any time taken to provide advice and assistance.

Fears loom over costs review for info requests (Press gazette, 6 July 2006)