The Justice Committee has now heard its final evidence in the post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Links to the uncorrected oral evidence can be found on our Resources page.
So what now?
It is understood that the Committee will prepare a report based on the written and oral evidence it has received. It will then be for Parliament to consider what proposed changes – if any – should be made to the FOI Act. Clearly, before the Committee’s report is published, it would be premature to speculate too much, but that does not mean that saveFOI’s work is done, and we will continue to update the blog, and tweet, for as long as necessary.
In that spirit, we were hugely impressed last week with a further submission to the Committee, made by the Campaign for Freedom of Information, which corrects (in fact, effectively demolishes) some of the evidence previously given – particularly by Lord O’Donnell and Jack Straw.
It also lists forty-odd examples “of excessive or wasteful spending revealed by FOI which is generally not taken into account when assessing the Act’s ‘costs’”.
The Campaign for Freedom of Information, and its tireless director Maurice Frankel, were key promoters and cheerleaders for FOI in the years before enactment, and have continued to perform this role in the years since. It’s fitting, therefore, that this final piece of evidence (which we understand the Committee agreed to accept) comes from them, and is so very compelling.
saveFOI hope that – with the help of the Campaign for Freedom of Information’s submission, and many other submissions by supporters of FOI – the Committee’s report will not contain recommendations such as charging people to make an FOI request, or for changes that would mean that qualified exemptions become absolute ones. We recognise, however, that even if it does, the game is far from over: a select committee does not make or change the law – that is a matter for Parliament.
Lobbying and campaigning will continue until we are satisfied that FOI has been saved.