Submission to the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information

The Independent Commission on Freedom of Information, established by the UK Government to review the Freedom of Information Act 2000, issued a call for evidence in October 2015.

A large number of the submissions it received in November 2015 were published by the Commission in early December. However, in spite of a note from the Commission stating that “The Secretariat intends to update this page regularly”, no further submissions have been published (as of today’s date, 4 February 2016).

This is somewhat concerning, considering that the Chairman of the Commission, Lord Burns, said at the time that the Commission’s intention was “to report as soon as possible after [the oral evidence] sessions” it held on 20 and 25 January.

The Commission’s failure to publish more of the submissions received is probably due to the fact that the Secretariat is massively overworked in its task, given that about 30,000 submissions were received. Unfortunately though, the lack of publication of other submissions might also invite the inference that some of the (as yet) unpublished evidence might be unhelpful to the beliefs expressed by the Commissioners in their call for evidence; were it published, it might even make it harder for the Commission to make recommendations that would (further) restrict access to policy advice and reduce the usability of the Act.

So, in case it is useful to others working to preserve or extend the Act, I am making my submission to the Commission available here. Although it is stated in the introduction to the submission that the views expressed are entirely my own and in no way represent those of my employer, I reiterate that here.

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