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  • Strong and stable FoI

    Posted on May 12th, 2010 admin No comments
    A representative Government?

    A representative Government?

    So we have a new Government at last and this Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition is looking around for things they can agree on.

    Well rumour has it that one thing they are going to take from their manifestos and bring to Parliament is a so-called Freedom Bill.

    This was a plank of Liberal Democrat policy and pledged to strengthen the powers of the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

    It specifically made mention of bringing private companies under the Act if they are delivering monopoly services to the public. They specifically mention that Network Rail should be brought under FoI legislation, but I presume it would also then extend to utility organisations like water and power companies.

    The reason it would appear that this may be pushed through is that it is not completely at odds with Conservative policy, which although less specific did make noises about strengthening the power of the Information Commissioner, giving him the power to fine organisations that are found guilty of mismanaging data.

    So it would appear that Clegg and Cameron can find common ground on a Freedom of Information agenda and the power and reach of the legislation could even be extended.

    If this does come to fruition and private companies working in the public sector are brought under the Act it means the Information Commissioner will have to do his second U-turn on the issue – he really must be getting quite dizzy.

    It was assumed that water companies did fall under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) after a decision relating to Sutton and East Surrey Water PLC (FER0118853 and FER0162211).

    However a decision released in March by the Commissioner [FER0260426] reversed that ruling and stated that water and sewerage companies were not public authorities for the purposes of the EIR. This decision notice, which isn’t on the Commissioner’s website (e-mail me if you want a copy), refered to a complaint I had made against Thames Water [link].

    This reversal, that is signed off by poacher-turned-gamekeeper Steve Wood, used an Information Tribunal decision relating to Network Rail (EA/2006/0061 and EA/2006/0062) as part of the rationale for exempting such companies.

    Now it appears the world might be turned on its head again and the legal decisions are to be trumped by the lawmakers.

    So if they have got time between working out where the cuts are going to go the Government may just give the Freedom of Information world a bit of a shake down.

  • Boulton v Campbell

    Posted on May 11th, 2010 admin No comments

    My apologies for not blogging as frequently as I should recently. I’ve been distracted by a whole range of things - I know it is no excuse. Of course the election and the on-going wrangle of who will be the PM and who will be the Government, and if it will make any real difference to us, has been rumbling on.

    The funniest thing I have seen is the increasing tension between Sky frontman Adam Boulton and Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell. It all blew up yesterday but as you’ll see from the Round 1 clip the bad feeling clearly runs deeps. Enjoy. If you want to get to the main action on the top clip move the slider to about 3.55.

     

    Boulton v Campbell (The Re-Match)

     

     

    Boulton v Campbell (Round 1)