Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - COUNTDOWN TO JANUARY 2005

  • Comment
The 3rd Annual Progress Report on the introduction of the Freedom of ...
The 3rd Annual Progress Report on the introduction of the Freedom of

Information Act 2000 was published today.

Information rights minister at the Department for Constitutional

Affairs, Lord Filkin said:

'There is only one year to go to full implementation. This report

details what action has been taken by my department to bring the Act

into force. It also details the activities of other departments as

well as authorities across the whole of the public sector in

preparation.

'Many authorities now have publication schemes in place and are

already putting into the public domain a far greater range of

material than ever before about the decisions they take. However,

it's important that all authorities get a grip now to ensure they are

fully prepared to cope with Freedom of Information requests once the

Act is fully in force.

'The Act presents a real opportunity for public authorities to make

the process of government at every level open and accountable and

thereby build trust in public bodies. Authorities at a local level

should use the Act to build closer links with the communities they

serve.

A lot of work is being done but there is a great deal more to do to

ensure the public sector is ready for January 2005.'

As well as the progress made by public authorities, the report

details the programme of work the Department for Constitutional

Affairs (DCA) has developed in consultation with the Office of the

Information Commissioner to assist authorities to prepare for Freedom

of Information. The programme has five key strands:

- Communications and Awareness - Following on from the FoI roadshows

in 2002, the DCA held 13 FoI awareness-raising seminars in England,

Wales and Northern Ireland between March and September. A further

publicity campaign is planned.

- Developing Networks - DCA is encouraging the development of

networks of specialist FoI practitioners in order to provide a

forum for discussion that will help to resolve common problems.

- Monitoring Systems - DCA will research and analyse the work being

done here and abroad to develop an IT system designed to assist

monitoring and management of information requests.

- Legislation - Over 40 bodies have been added to the list of

authorities subject to the Act. DCA intends to issue guidance on

the designation of private bodies as public authorities for the

purpose of the Act. The Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice will

also be revised and Regulations governing fees under the Act will

be produced.

- Guidance - The DCA will issue a comprehensive range of guidance

regarding the handling of requests and the way in which statutory

exemptions should be applied. The Information Commissioner will

issue exemptions guidance with more general relevance to public

authorities outside of Central Government. A Model Action Plan on

FoI Implementation for use across the public sector is also being

produced and will be published before the New Year.

Notes

1. Copies of the 3rd Annual Report on Implementation of the Freedom

of Information Act 2000 can be found on the DCA website at: Hard

copies are available from Information Rights Division, 4th Floor, MWB

Business Exchange, Greycoat Place, London, SW1P 1SB Tel: 020 7960

8755.

2. Guidance on the FoI Act 2000, Publication Schemes and the work of

the DCA in this area can be found at:

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

3. There are two further 'waves' to implement the publication scheme

provisions:

- 29 February 2004 - Schools, universities, remaining NDPBs and other

public bodies, including publicly owned companies as defined in

section 6 of the Act.

- 30 June 2004 - remaining public authorities (this 'wave' is

predominantly intended for bodies designated as public bodies for

the purposes of FOI under section 5 of the Act).

< p/="">4. The general right of access will come into force 1 January 2005.

5. Under section 47 of the Act, the information commissioner is under

a duty to promote the following of good practice by public

authorities. This duty includes promoting the observance by public

authorities of the provisions of the Codes of Practice issued under

sections 45 and 46 the Act. If it seems to the commissioner that a

public authority's practice does not conform with what is proposed in

the Codes, he can give the authority a recommendation under section

48 (a practice recommendation) specifying the steps which, in his

opinion, the authority should take in order to conform to the

relevant code.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.