[hat-tip: Your Right to Know]
The government has finally made available to the public the UK statute law database. Have a look.
The rule of law requires that all laws should be make public, and this helps. It not only includes all UK legislation since 1991 but also (for legislation passed after 2002) allows you to see the effects of repeals and amendments to particular pieces of legislation.
I missed this from the FT:
The government last week gave opponents of its plans to neuter, for all practical purposes, the 2005 Freedom of Information Act until April to make their case. It appears to be banking on a lukewarm response and a failure to grasp its obfuscatory reasoning.
The Government ‘wants’ to save £12m. Twelve million pounds! In the scheme of things (i.e the UK’s public sector spending) £12m is peanuts.
The reason? Because the Government decided many requests are too ‘sensitive’ for minor civil servants and should be referred to ministers and the Clearing House at the Department for Constitutional Affairs. In terms of additional people handling the material over time, obviously this increases the cost of dealing with the information.
The Government wants such costs included in the calculation of cost because then they can refuse requests likely to exceed £600 (central government) or £450 (local government).
They also want to aggregate the costs of multiple requests from one person or similar requests from multiple people involved in a campaign. Again if such a cost exceeds the upper limit they can refuse the requests. Dodgy eh?
Of course the most cost effective and ethical action would be to make all government information available to the public as a matter of course, with the exception of material that would endanger ‘national security’ if it got into the public domain.
But this Government wants to retain control of the information that we pay for.
Labour Manifesto, 1997:
We are pledged to a Freedom of Information Act, leading to more open government.