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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 18-22

PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill - Draft Bill: Clauses 18-22

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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
Clause 18 Information accessible to applicant by other means

(1)       Information is absolutely exempt information if it is reasonably accessible to the applicant, whether free of charge or on payment, other than by requesting it under section 7(1).

(2)       Without limiting subsection (1), information is taken to be reasonably accessible if

(a)      it is available in public libraries or archives;

(b)       it is available on the internet or from any other reasonably accessible source;

(c)        it is made available under a publication scheme; or

(d)       the public authority which holds it, or any other person, is obliged by law to supply it to members of the public on request.

Comment

 (1) implies that the key consideration is that information is reasonably accessible to the individual applicant?

 (2) then undermines the focus on the individual appicant, by saying the information is deemed to accessible if it can be obtained in any of the 4 specified ways.

 Something that may be accessible to person A, who has internet access, may not be accessible to person B, who does not.

 Something available in the library may be accessible to person C, who can walk or drive there, but not to person D who is disabled and housebound.

 It is in the public interest for information to be accessible to every member of society

Clause 20 Court information

(3)       Information is absolutely exempt information if it is held by a public authority only by virtue of being contained in a document

(a)       placed in the custody of; or

(b)       created by a person conducting an inquiry or arbitration, for the purposes of the inquiry or arbitration

Comment 

Clause 20(1) exempts court documents. Clause 20(3) applies the same exemption to any statutory inquiry. Clarification should be given about the exemptions

e.g. in the IOM is there a procedure permitting anyone to ask the courts to authorise the release of documents relating to a case, and Deemsters have power to do so?

Moreover where the document has been read out in open court it seems reasonable to expect it to be regarded publicly available thereafter.

Similarly clarification is necessary for Inquiries, as the definition in subclause (4) means that this provision applies to any statutory Inquiry, even one that takes place in public.

P A G strongly recommends that greater consideration be given to absolutely exempt information in relation to Court information. The overriding consideration must be the public interest.

Clause 22 Parliamentary business

22        Parliamentary business

(1)       Information is absolutely exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely, in the reasonable opinion of the appropriate person specified in subsection (3), to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.

Comment

Tynwald would enjoy two absolute exemptions, one for parliamentary privilege and the other for effective conduct of public affairs.

Such provisions serve create to a barrier between elected representatives and the electorate they serve. It is not appropriate for the IOM, especially with its long democratic tradition. The much younger Scottish Parliament does not even have the concept of parliamentary privilege and the exemption of effective conduct of public affairs is a qualified not absolute exemption in relation to it.

This should be the case in the IOM.



 

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.
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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
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