More FoI stories in the news

  • Train firm says it must cut costs to tackle overcrowding (Wales Online, 14 October 2008)
    First Great Western has warned ministers it does not have enough trains to cope with demand. The company, whose services include journeys between London and Cardiff, has asked to renegotiate the terms of its £1.1bn contract and has warned the Government it needs to reduce costs to buy more carriages. The plea was discovered yesterday in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Pilots convicted of drink driving OK to fly (, 13 October 2008)
    The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released a statement acknowledging that nine commercial pilots in the UK were convicted of drink driving charges in 2007. It is a regulation of the CAA that pilots cannot consume any alcohol within eight hours of their shift, and in fact, easyJet extends that period to 10 hours prior to duty. Three of the nine pilots flew for easyJet, and one was an employee of Virgin Airlines, according to the information released as a result of a Freedom of Information request that was filed.
  • Big banks ignored sub-prime troubles (The Australian, 13 October 2008)
    Australia's big banks ignored the sub-prime crisis in the US and actively took greater risks in the home mortgage market to see off a challenge from rival lenders. The banks not only relaxed their lending standards in recent years - ultimately luring many customers into financial distress - but held off tightening their terms of credit to build a better market position. Reserve Bank documents, obtained by The Australian using Freedom of Information laws, show the change in lending standards was driven by competition and the housing boom. In the last six months of last year, banks informed the Reserve Bank that the proportion of new mortgages described as non-standard - such as low-document loans and those with high loan-to-valuation ratios - was increasing. That was despite the sub-prime crisis, rising interest rates and evidence that more of their existing mortgage customers were unable to make repayments.
  • Back to the drawing board … 25 rewrites for SNP’s crucial referendum question (Sunday Herald, 12 October 2008)
    The SNP'S flagship plan for an independence referendum went through more than two dozen separate versions and is still a work-in-progress, ministers have admitted. Although only four pages long, the referendum chapter that appeared last August as part of Alex Salmond's National Conversation was repeatedly rewritten, going through 26 different drafts before being signed off with civil servants. The chapter set out the Scottish government's justification for holding a referendum on independence, even though the constitution and most voting legislation is reserved to Westminster. The referendum bill is "still very much an ongoing area of policy development", according to material obtained under freedom of information laws. Although ministers ultimately withheld all drafts of the annex, they were forced to hand over the material to Kevin Dunion, Scotland's Information Commissioner, and justify their actions. Dunion was of the view that while there was a clear public interest in the drafts being made public, this was outweighed by the potential damage to the workings of government.