Freedom of Information

Justice written question – answered on 29th January 2013.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab Conservative, Esher and Walton

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether he plans to introduce changes to the existing Freedom of Information legislation.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

The Government's response to the Justice Select Committee's report on post legislative scrutiny (PLS) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), published on 30 November 2012, sets out our intentions in relation to the Act.

We will amend the Act to give the Information Commissioner more time to prosecute alleged offences under section 77 of the Act and introduce a dedicated exemption for pre-publication research. The PLS response reaffirms the Government's commitment to the extension of the Act to companies wholly owned by any number of public authorities through the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and to bodies performing functions of a public nature through secondary legislation. We will also consider how the cost of compliance might be reduced through changes to the cost limit which would also require secondary legislation. The Government will also look at other options to reduce the burden on public authorities in relation to the cost limit, including where one person or group of people's use of FOIA to make unrelated requests to the same public authority is so frequent that it becomes inappropriately or disproportionately burdensome.

We will also review the Government's policy on the use of section 53 and aspects of the existing Code of Practice issued under section 45, and issue new guidance to promote transparency by contractors providing public services. However, these aspects of the PLS response will not require legislation.

Copies of the response can be found in the House Library and on the following web address:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/policy/moj/gov-resp-justice-comm-foi-act.pdf

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