UK Conservatives Oppose Watering Down FOI Law

1 December 2015

A United Kingdom Conservative Party member, David Davis, said Nov. 30 that more than a dozen Conservative members of parliament would oppose proposals to weaken the freedom of information law, according to reports in the Guardian and the Daily Mail

Davis predicted that the fight to defend the legislation was “eminently winnable.” His comments came at an all-parliamentary briefing organized by a cross-party campaign to defend freedom of information. The Conservative-led government, with a majority of 12 votes, has organized a special commission to evaluate changes to the FOI law.

The commission requested “evidence,” and received more than 30,000 replies. (See report.)

The Campaign for Freedom of Information was among the organization submitting comprehensive comments, saying that “the FOI Act’s existing approach to the disclosure of internal discussion provides more than adequate protection for sensitive information. “

Davis called the commission “a joke” designed to “cripple” the legislation made up of members “who either for one reason or another express scepticism about FoI, or have themselves been embarrassed by its operation.”

His criticism of the commission was echoed by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tyler and Labour MP Louise Haigh, according to the media reports. The Labour Party has launched parallel review to look at ways the FOI law could be strengthened, including expanding it to cover private companies contracted to deliver public services.

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