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Home Positive Action Group Our Charter and Objectives Open and Accountable PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill - Draft Bill Clauses 5 to 10

PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill - Draft Bill Clauses 5 to 10

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Article Index
PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill
Executive Summary
Draft Bill Clauses 5 to 10
Draft Bill: Clauses 11-14
Draft Bill: Clauses 18-22
Draft Bill: Clauses 27-31
Draft Bill: Clauses 34-42
Draft Bill:Clauses 43-47
Draft Bill: Clauses 48-50
Draft Bill: Clauses 53-67
All Pages
C) Detailed Submission

Clause 5 – Meaning of public authority

“(9) Schedule 1 does not affect the operation of section 6(2) of the Council of Ministers Act 1990 (proceedings of council to be confidential).”

Comment

Clause 5 defines “a public authority” to which requests for information can only be made [4(1), 7(1)]. It thus excludes CoMin whose proceedings are confidential (except by referral to the Chief Minister). The Government Cabinet in the UK is subject to the UK FOI Act , and the Scottish Act. So far it has vetoed disclosures of Cabinet or Cabinet Committee meetings. Nevertheless the legal mechanism is in place.

In the interest of transparency and the spirit of the Bill, CoMin should have an unqualified inclusion as a public authority.

Clause 6 – Meaning of publicly-owned company

(2) The Council of Ministers may by order specify that this Act applies only to information of a specified description held by a publicly-owned company.

Comment

Not ideal to do this by order. 
e.g. Ministers can in effect change the Schedule to take a company which has been fully subject to the Act and amend the definition so that it applies to it.
e.g in relation to the amount it spends on postage!

Clause 7 – General right of access to information held by public authorities     

(6) A public authority may also refuse to comply with a request for information if the information came into existence before 1 September 1996, unless the information –
(a) is open information; or
(b) is contained in a record created on or after that date.

Comment

a) The existing Code of Practice is fully retrospective. The Bill should provide for this, as otherwise it would remove an existing right. Full retrospection exists under the UK and Scottish Acts.

b) The principle of retrospection should apply to all government information. However, a scheme of phased-in retrospection may be acceptable for local authorities and similar bodies.  This would enable them to adapt to the requirements of the legislation over a number of years

Clause 10 - Fees

(5) A fee imposed under subsection (2) -

(a) must be determined by the public authority in the prescribed manner; but
(b) where provision is made by or under another enactment as to the way in which it is to be determined, must be determined in that way.

(6) Regulations made for the purpose of subsection (5)(a) may, in particular, provide –

(a) that no fee is to be payable in prescribed cases; and
(b) that any fee is not to exceed such maximum as is specified in, or is to be determined in accordance with, the regulations

Comment

P A G is opposed to an across the board imposition of fees. There should be no prescribed application fee. No fee is levied under ther existing Code. It is a significant omission that no indication of likely fees accompanies the Bill. (cf. States of Jersey Report). Similarly no indication of the cost of fee collection administration is given in the Impact Assessment (Appendix 2).  It may well be that complicated requests may require a charge to be levied.

(8) Regulations made for the purposes of this section may create offences and impose penalties for the provision of false or misleading information in connection with a request for information.

Comment

This sub clause is confusing and ambiguous as it is not clear who would be implicated in any offence. Is it an official who deliberately releases false information to a requester? If so it needs to be stated that the offence is committed for the provision of false or misleading information in response to a request for information.



 

Comments   

 
0 #2 RE: PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information BillGuest 2011-11-01 20:34
I cannot accept that a Crown Dependency should have entirely separate legislation to the UK. The cost of modern governance is beyond that which our island could collect through fair taxation. Therefore, I propose that our Civil Service should be an extention of the UK operation, on some matters.
Quote
 
 
0 #1 Peel Commissioners view of Draft FoI Billroy 2010-09-28 11:59
http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/Peel-board-critical-of-Freedom.6503601.jp
Quote
 

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