The Times: FOI works so leave it alone

The Times leads with the comment that one of Labour’s finer achievements has been to introduce freedom of information to Britain and this has allowed the press and public to delve around in government departments and other public authorities to examine how we are governed.

Now the government, in the person of Lord Falconer, the constitutional affairs secretary, wants to restrict the effectiveness of the legislation: requests from organisations and individuals will be “aggregated”, with the cost limit applied to them, and where applicants put forward a public interest case for release of the information, the cost of assessing the request will be included in the £600 limit for central government departments (£450 for all other public authorities) which the government has set for each application. Maurice Frankel, Director of the Campaign for the Freedom of Information, reflected: “The more substantial the public interest issue raised by someone’s request, the more likely it will be to be refused, because the time authorities spend considering the issues will count against it.”

North of the border FOI is said to be working well and there are no plans to scale it back. The Times advocates the following course of action for Falconer and other members of the government who want to limit the legislation: "As Ronald Reagan once said to overactive underlings: 'Don’t just do something, stand there.'"

It works, so leave it alone (The Times, 4 March 2007)
59 things that would have stayed secret (The Times, 4 March 2007)