Freedom of Information: the story so far

1978 – Private Member’s Bill on FoI legislation introduced by Clement Freud MP fell when the 1979 election was called.

1981 – FoI Bill was introduced by Frank Hooley MP but was opposed by the Conservative government and defeated at second reading.

1991 – Another FoI Bill, drafted by the Campaign for Freedom of Information, is introduced in January by Archy Kirkwood MP. The bill has only 45 minutes in Parliament and does not get a second reading.

1996 – The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration publishes its Open Government report and recommends that a FoI Act be introduced. The Major government rejects this recommendation but accepts that the Code of Practice needs amendment. A slightly revised version of the Code is introduced in February 1997.

1997 – At the May General Election, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats promise FoI legislation in their manifestos.

1997 – The Government publishes its FoI white paper, Your Right to Know, in December. The Government promises a draft FoI bill in early 1998.

1998 – More than 240 MPs sign a parliamentary motion in July calling on the Government to introduce FoI legislation in the next Parliamentary session.

1999 – A Freedom of Information Bill drafted by the Campaign For Freedom of Information is finally introduced by Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay under the 10 Minute Rule procedure.

1999 – A slightly amended version of Mackinlay’s bill is introduced into the House of Lords in November by the Conservative peer Lord Lucas of Crudwell. It receives a second reading in February 1999.

1999 – The draft Freedom of Information Bill is published in May for public consultation and a House of Lords Select Committee is appointed in June to consider it.

1999 – The revised Freedom of Information Bill is formally introduced in the House of Commons in November.

2000 – On 6 April, the Freedom of Information Bill is passed in the House of Commons and moves to the House of Lords for debate.

2000 – The bill receives Royal Assent on November 30. Some provisions come into effect immediately, allowing the Information Commissioner to be appointed and his office to be set up.

2005 – On 1 January, the Freedom of Information Act comes fully into force covering more than 100,000 public authorities and enshrining in law for the first time the public’s right to know.

2006 – Information commissioner Richard Thomas warns in October that he needs more Government funding to reduce the huge backlog of unresolved cases. Ministers propose that Government departments are allowed to count the time taken to produce answers to the cost of replying. They also propose that organisations be limited in the number of requests they can make.

2006 – In November, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, says in a letter to ministers he is ‘alarmed’at the pace of change to the Act. Tony Blair promises assembled editors at a Newspaper Society lunch he will consult the industry on any future changes to the act.

2006 – Of the 62,825 requests made under the Act to central government up to December 2006, some 26,038 have been exempted according to a Whitehall report.

No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *