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ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION - LATEST MONITORING REPORT PUBLISHED

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The monitoring report on the operation of the Code of Practice on ...
The monitoring report on the operation of the Code of Practice on

Access to Government Information for the year 2002 is published

today.

A copy of the report is available on the department's website.

The report reviews the demand for access to information held by the

government, agencies, and non-departmental public bodies that are

covered by the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

The findings for 2002 include the following:

- A total of 5,212 requests handled under the Code were received in

2002. This represents an 11.65% increase on the number in 2001.

- 20% of requests for information were refused in 2002. Although

this is a rise on 2001's figure of 17.1% of requests, it is the first

time in five years that the percentage of refusals has risen. This is

still significantly lower than the 50.2% of requests that were

refused in 1997, and the 46% of requests that were refused in 1999.

There is consistently more information being released in response to

requests compared to the early years of the operation of the Code.

- Code requests have consistently been dealt with in a timely

manner, with over 90% of requests answered within 20 days or less.

- Members of the public made 40% of Code requests in 2002. This

represents a 7% rise on 2001, and a 9.4% rise on 2000, and may be a

welcome indication that people are increasingly aware of their rights

of access to information held by the government.

The monitoring report provides a transparent view of how government

departments are performing on access to information currently, as

they prepare for full implementation of the Freedom of Information

Act.

Notes

1. The Code of Practic e on Access to Government Information came into

force on 4 April 1994. The Code of Practice commits government

departments and public bodies within the jurisdiction of the

parliamentary ombudsman to volunteer information such as facts and

analysis behind major policy decisions, as well as answering requests

for information. This is the eighth annual monitoring report.

2. The Code of Practice will continue to apply until it is replaced

by the Freedom of Information Act. The Act will be fully implemented

by 1 January 2005.

3. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 received royal assent on 30

November 2000. In November 2001, the then Lord Chancellor, Lord

Irvine, announced that the Act would be implemented on a rolling

basis with the proactive provisions of the Act coming in first across

the public sector. When the roll-out is completed, the right of

access under the Act will come into force on 1 January 2005. This is

eleven months before the statutory deadline for implementation set

out in the Act itself. More information about the Freedom of

Information Act canbe found on the department's website at:

http://www.lcd.gov.uk/foi/foidpunit.htm

4. The secretary of state for constitutional affairs has a statutory

duty to report annually to Parliament on the progress made towards

implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. This year's report

will be published by 30 November 2003.

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