MPs oppose plan to hike FoI fees

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, is facing pressure from MPs to back away from his threat to introduce fees for journalists requesting material under the Freedom Information Act.

The Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has thrown its support behind campaigners in urging the government to retain the present scheme.

Constitutional Affairs minister Baroness Ashton has told the MPs that the Government was conducting a review of the fees because of the huge amount of time, in some cases weeks and months, to accede to requests.

But the MPs told the Lord Chancellor "we see no need to change the fees regulations". They urged the Government to publish the results of the internal fees review and to conduct a public consultation before deciding on any change.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, told the MPs that higher charges would harm the number of FoI requests and would be "a very regrettable step to take."

The committee, headed by Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith, said problems with frivolous requests should be dealt with through the existing scheme.

"We do not consider that this is an appropriate reason for reviewing the fees regulations," he said.

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