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  • FOI Live 2009 - Where the money goes

    Posted on March 13th, 2009 admin No comments

    Are you going to FoI Live 2009? As the credit crunch bites FoI News wondered about the finances of this information law showpiece. If I want to go it will cost around £500!conference

    Intrigued about where all this public money was going FoI News asked University College, London, how the dosh was split up after everybody had gone home. It would have been amusing if they had applied the S.43 (Commercial Interests) exemption, but good sports that they were they revealed the information.

    Below is the question FoI News posed and the answer from University College.



    Please note that I believe this information will be held by the Constitution Unit at your University.


    In relation to FoI Live conferences in 2008, 2007 and  2006 could you please provide me with full accounts which show:

    i)                    The income received from delegates

    ii)                   Any other sources of income

    iii)                 How much was paid to the conference organisers, and who were they?

    iv)                 After the costs of the conference organisers were subtracted from the total income what was left over, and how was that money shared out (please give figures and the names of companies/organisations that benefited)?

    v)                  Please provide me with any projected accounts for this year’s FoI Live.

    FOI Live conference costs
    Income received from delegates (£) Other sources of income (£) Conference organisers fee (£)*  Profit (£)**
    FOI Live 2006 121,279.31 0.00 66,032.27 55,247.04
    Organiser: Complete Support Group        
    FOI Live 2007 117,318.36 0.00 88,746.79 28,571.57
    Organiser: Lewis Live        
    FOI Live 2008 126,516.25 0.00 87,264.59 39,251.66
    Organiser: Istead Business Presentations        
    FOI Live 2009 126,225.00 0.00 88,458.00 37,767.00
    Organiser: Istead Business Presentations        
    * inclusive of all costs, e.g. venue, delegate management, AV and other materials
    ** All profits due to the Constitution Unit, UCL and no other parties      
  • Och Aye The Noo…We Are Better Than You

    Posted on March 13th, 2009 admin No comments
    There's a welcome in the hills for FoI

    There's a welcome in the hills for FoI

    Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner has launched an attack on the UK Government and Westminster saying those in power south of the border are losing their nerve about Freedom of Information.
    He says they are backsliding on their commitment to freedom of information and returning to the secrecy culture of the 1960s and 1970s.

    Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Mr Dunion highlighted Jack Straw’s first use of the ministerial veto to block the release of Cabinet minutes dealing with the Iraq war.

    He also said many MPs simply “don’t get” the concept of letting the public see the detail of how they spend taxpayers’ money, despite it being the norm at Holyrood.

    Mr Dunion said: “I discern a palpably different mood north and south of the border. I just wonder, where are the friends of FoI down south?

    “We are very keen to press ahead with the extension of FoI in Scotland, and we are in discussion with Bruce Crawford minister for parliamentary business.

    “Down south, the indications are that’s far from the government’s agenda. It’s more concerned with amending FoI, to make sure it doesn’t apply to things like Northern Rock and to use the veto to stop the release of Cabinet minutes.

    “Those are all really negative indicators from down south, which at the moment we don’t seem to have any parallel for in Scotland.”

    “The use by Jack Straw of the veto should not be at all downplayed,” said Dunion. “It is a nuclear option for a minister to press the button on using the veto and overriding not just the information commissioner, but the Information Tribunal.

    “We are now getting clear signals that English legislation may be amended so that Cabinet minutes become absolutely exempt. That is quite a departure from progressive thinking in FoI. That’s going back to 1960s, 1970s thinking.”

    His comments come as the SNP government considers whether to extend the reach of FoI to a new range of organisations in Scotland.

    Dunion has asked for the biggest Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts, including privately run Kilmarnock Prison, and around 80 arms-length council trusts, many handling leisure services, to be designated as open to FoI.

    Starting with housing associations owning more than 1000 homes, he has also asked for all 170 registered social landlords to be designated. The change would not expose private companies to every kind of FoI request, but it would open up specific contracts under which they carried out a public function, such as building a hospital or maintaining a school.