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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Why Farron is right to call for breakup of freedom of information review

In today's Guardian, Tim Farron has called for the commission reviewing the freedom of information law to be disbanded on the grounds that the group has "a bias towards limiting access to FoI requests for quite spurious reasons".

As the Liberal Democrats leader says: “I’m sure there is a cost – an administrative cost and a time cost – to providing this information, but that’s the price you pay for living in a liberal society.”

The paper says that Farron believes that any conclusions drawn by the commission other than to protect the existing rules would not be credible. “They need to scrap the current set-up and start again,” he said.

“I’m all for reviewing legislation 16 years since it came in – I think that’s a perfectly sensible thing to do – but if you start off your exercise with a group of people whose instincts are to rein in the powers then that’s illiberal.”

Democracy depends on people having access to sufficient information to make informed choices. A prerequisite is accountable and transparent government. All of that costs money, but it is money well-spent. If anything the Freedom of Information Act does not go far enough.

The commission set up to review it is a rather obvious attempt to rein it in. That is inappropriate and Tim Farron is right to say it should be disbanded.
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