When asked to name his regrets as Prime Minister, Tony Blair said he wished he’d never passed the Freedom of Information Act.
Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?
There can be little doubt that Britain has not coped very well with the concept that all information held by public bodies must be made freely available unless it falls into certain exempt categories. Therein, of course, lies the problem. The opportunities for Government departments and councils to prevaricate and refuse FoI requests are legion.
Birmingham City Council has found itself in hot water with the Information Commissioner, who is questioning the length of time it takes Birmingham to deal with FoI applications.
To be fair to the council, the 1,173 requests it received last year will have placed huge pressure on staff, not to mention the £800,000 cost of dealing with the enquiries.
Of course, if the council was a little more open with information in the first place, there would be no need for so many FoI applications.