October 17, 2006

Cost of democracy? £24,000,000

The government wants to change the rules about Freedom of Information because the current system is too expensive.

How expensive is “too expensive”? £24m per year.

Sounds like a bargain to me.

Wisely, many are suspecting that it’s not about cutting costs but is more about trying to cut down on the amount of information that is being ‘set free’.

FoI requests are denied if they cost more than £600 to process, but Lord Falconer, who is in charge of Constitutional Affairs, wants to include more things within this cost calculation, thereby making more claims ‘too expensive’ to process.

This is really bad news and a number of MPs seem to agree.

Organisations like the BBC could actually be given a set limit on the number of FoI requests they make each year. If that doesn’t sound like creeping Stalinism then I don’t know what does.

The government’s never liked the Freedom of Information laws it introduced. It watered them down once they got into government, and has been doing their best to make them ineffective ever since.

This time it might just succeed in its wish.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. It is odd that isn’t it? Why did they introduce things like FOIA and HRA if all they’ve wanted to do subsequently is undermine them?

    17 Oct 2006, 15:53

  2. Obviously another example of “joined-up government”.

    17 Oct 2006, 16:05

  3. There was a really good Peter Kosminsky film in 2002 (cheers for that imdb) called The Project which suggested that Labour genuinely hadn’t thought through the consequences of FOI before they got into government. It was only in 1997 that they realised that real FOI would cause them countless problems and make them more accountable than they wanted to be.

    Incidentally not sure if The Project is available on DVD (it was made for BBC One) but it’s well worth watching.

    17 Oct 2006, 18:05

  4. Or in other words, they weren’t idealistic back then, just dim. Fair enough explanation. ;-)

    17 Oct 2006, 18:42

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