The Prime Minister and FOI

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke on 6 March to the House of Commons Liaison Committee (chaired, interestingly enough, by Sir Alan Beith, who also chairs the Justice Committee undertaking post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000). Although he said the government were “not making any plans to change” the FOI Act, he appeared to compare it unfavourably to the government’s own “transparency agenda”, saying

It seems to me that real freedom of information is the money that goes in and the results that come out. Making Government transparent is the best thing.

We spend, or the system seems to spend, an age dealing with freedom of information requests which are all about processes and actually what the public or the country want to know is how much money are you spending, is that money being spent well and what are the results.

His speech has attracted some criticism. saveFOI co-founder Paul Gibbons has written on his own blog about it, as has the BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum on his.

Perhaps the key point had already been made last month though, when another co-founder of saveFOI, Tim Turner wrote on his blog that

Transparency…is geared towards an open-source, re-use model which is intrinsically positive, but totally separate from the accountability / scrutiny aim of FOI

saveFOI’s view is that FOI and the Transparency agenda are two cogs in the same machine, not options to be chosen between.

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One thought on “The Prime Minister and FOI

  1. rob8urcakes says:

    I reckon what sCamoron is getting at is the same concept behind the famous catch phrase “I’d buy THAT for a dollar!!!” (Robocop movie).

    In other words, the Tories want us to start paying the full cost of accessing and revealing the information we’ve already paid for as enslaved taxpayers who have no choice to opt-out of being taxed on our income and then again on what we buy.

    (Aside – for the avoidance of doubt, I’m VERY MUCH in favour of fair taxation. But only if it assists the poor to survive the ravages of Capitalism rather than being frittered away as a Welfare payment to businesses.)

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