» Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Freedom of Information Act

Asked if the Government was using the Freedom of Information Act as a propaganda tool, the PMOS said that first and foremost we should recognise that the information was being released because the Government put forward the Freedom of Information Act. That was how this opportunity arose. Secondly proper procedures would be followed and those procedures would be overseen by the Civil Service and the appropriate people. Asked who made the final decisions on what information to give, the PMOS said that in respect of the ERM case his understanding was that current Government Ministers would not permitted to see the information until it was published. In these situations the Civil Service department concerned was in charge of the decisions in consultation with the Cabinet Office and the DCA. It was a long standing convention that the current administration did not see the papers of the previous administration. Asked about the thin line between what could and could not be published, the PMOS said that the act set out the limits. It was always clear that there would exemption for material relating to policy, because otherwise Government couldn’t get advice in the objective way necessary. There were also exemptions on what was judged to be the economic interest of the nation. The over-seeing of all this was dealt with by clear provisions in the act.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. Ha, listen to Radio 4 in the mornings these days and you’ll hear the clarion call to all those aspiring prizewinning journalists out there – there are lots of cans of worms and cats in bags just waiting to be prised open by anyone with the right tools!
    Also, shouldn’t that "thin line" read as "the thin end of the wedge"? Dont’cha just love the bit about "exemptions on what was judged to be the economic interest of the nation"? Personally it would be in my economic interests to have full access to the shenanigans my bank gets up to with my hard-earned cash…

    Comment by aunty q — 11 Feb 2005 on 1:28 am | Link
  2. Well it was fairly obvious right from the off that this Act was going to act like a red flag to a bull for everyone with an axe to grind; it was also obvious (well, to me, anyway) that this Government was always going to have to bullshit its way around the rules as it has far too much to hide. Still, it’s gratifying that at least in one small way democracy is winning and whenever the government has a sticky question to answer one will feel satisfaction that at last they are being hoist with their own petard, if only for a few minutes. Because we all know that the rules will be bent, broken and tied every which way before this government tells us the truth about some things, Iraq not least and the Attorney Generals advice on the legality of invasion.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 11 Feb 2005 on 1:43 am | Link
  3. Freedom of information? Yeh – right.
    Obviously, the only juicy bits released will be anything that damages the opposition. Probably have to wait til our glorious leader and his chums have been removed before we really know of any of their skeletons in the variuos cupboards. Sad isn’t it?

    Comment by newbeard 56 — 11 Feb 2005 on 2:54 pm | Link

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