Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

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Home The News Latest News PAG comments on the introduction of the Freedom of Information Bill 2011

PAG comments on the introduction of the Freedom of Information Bill 2011

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In its Strategic Plan 2007-2011 the Government made a commitment to "provide to the public right of access to government information".
When Chief Minister Brown took the Freedom of Information Bill 2011 to a first reading in the final sitting of Keys (28.06.11) he felt he had honoured the promise made 4 years earlier.

The Manx public is not fooled by this piece of political chicanery. 

We agree with Mr Brown that it is an "important piece of legislation" but disagree that the reason it has taken so long in gestation is because it is complicated.

The real reason is that the CoMin feared the introduction of a law that would allow more open public access to information held by all public authorities.

The process had started so well with a preliminary pubic consultation early in 2007. Drafting of the Bill started in October of that year. Why did it take nearly THREE years to bring a Draft Bill forward for further Public consultation in July 2010? At the time Mr Brown stated:
"To ensure that the process is open and honest and in line with the Government's Code of Conduct on Consultation...A summary of the responses received will be published within 3 months of the closing date ( 10th September 2010) for this consultation, and will be made available on the Government website ... "
The purpose was  to provide "feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy".

This summary was not published before the end of 2010 and still hasn't been published. Why is that?

Retiring MHK David Cannan justifiably asked  "What the purpose is of introducing a Freedom of Information Bill at this sitting, the last sitting of the present parliament?" to which the Chief Minister responded "Unless the House decides otherwise, it will be for the next House to determine if it wishes to take the Bill forward in its present format" 

As one senior politician told P A G "the FOI bill is not going to go anywhere now....  We will have a different Chief Minister and council come October , that means the bill will go back into the melting pot."

PAG has campaigned for the last 5 years for the legislation and feels aggrieved that the Bill was not progressed with vigour for it to be presented for signature, along with 21 other Bills, at the final sitting of Tynwald on 12th July.

Chair of P A G, Roger Tomlinson, stated:

"The Manx public has been let down by this administration which claims to be open and accessible. Mr Brown has effectively filibustered the Bill.In this modern world It is important that people are allowed reasonable access to information on a statutory basis. We regularly hear of important issues in the UK that have been revealed as a result of requests under the F O I Act. It is the sign of a modern responsive democracy. We are being denied that same right.Mr Brown and his colleagues in CoMin ought to be ashamed of the way this legislation has been effectively sidelined. P A G is suspicious as to why the numerous responses to last year's consultation have not been published. We want to read those responses and so see how the drafters have reacted to them. In what way does this 2011 Bill differ from the earlier Draft?   We can only hope that the next government will hit the ground running with FOI. We certainly will again be actively lobbying for it."
 

Comments   

 
0 #6 ConfusedGuest 2011-09-11 16:51
Sorry Barbara but you're getting F O I and Data Protection mixed up!

A Freedom Of Information Act would give the public a statutory right to access government information only.

It's worth reading about IoM Data Protection on the website:
www.gov.im/odps/
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0 #5 Concerns about Freedom of Information ActGuest 2011-09-11 15:55
It worries me that the Freedom of Information Act is being used to put more and more personal information of individuals into the public domain.
 
In my opinion it is wrong that perfect strangers can order birth and marriage certificates of living people without that persons knowledge or permission.
 
Electoral Rolls can be viewed online for a nominal fee.  All the above is information we are compelled to give by law as citizens to the government.
 
The Government is the custodians of this information and as such should not be selling it off.  I think it could be argued that this information is the intellectual property of the persons it pertains to.

I also think that records of the recently deceased should also not be available for sensitivity reasons towards the families concerned.  

Data protection needs to be tightened and the sale of personal information by the Government or private company prohibited without an individuals express permission.
 
Financial Institutions and Insurance Companies obviously should be able to access information to prevent fraud and money laundering.  
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0 #4 2007-2011 Strategic PlanGuest 2011-07-13 16:21
Here is the link to the Strategic Plan:

http://bit.ly/qJPzen
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+1 #3 Responses published at last!Guest 2011-07-10 11:07
At last the summary of responses to the consultation has just been released, along with clause by clause responses.

They can be read on these links:

http://bit.ly/p7LhVx
http://bit.ly/oUCp6Z

These reports are only 7 months late!
It goes to show the priorities of this administration.
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+2 #2 Brown's broken promiseGuest 2011-07-08 07:34
On Page 69 of the ISLE OF MAN GOVERNMENT ANNUAL REPORT 2011 ON THE GOVERNMENT STRATEGIC PLAN 2007 - 2011 it clearly states this:-

Action: To provide to the public right of access to Government information:

The Government introduced a Freedom of Information Bill into the House of Keys in June 2011 which contained provision to provide with public with a statutory right of access to Government information. The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information continues to operate successfully.

The government has failed to provide that access - bringing a Bill to first reading goes nowhere near to fulfilling the promise made 4 years ago.

The Code is no substitute for a statutory right to information!
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