Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Cabinet Office rejects recommendations to improve transparency of its FOI handling

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee publishes the Government’s response to its report on ‘The Cabinet Office Freedom of Information Clearing House’.

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The response largely rejects the recommendations in the Committee’s report, which called for greater transparency over the Cabinet Office’s handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The Government says it agrees that “it is important to acknowledge the challenge of some of the perceptions of the Clearing House’s role and remit”.

However, the response does not attempt to address any of the issues raised in the report in detail, instead saying it will wait for the recommendations from is own internal review, which the Committee has already described as being insufficient to restore public trust.

The response also notes the Government has ‘no plans’ to revisit the decision to exempt the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) from the FOI Act, a move which the Committee viewed as concerning.

Chair's comment

Chair of PACAC William Wragg MP yesterday said:

“Our inquiry heard significant concerns that the Cabinet Office was not transparent with its handling of FOI requests.

“That is why we asked for more data to be published and called for an independent audit of its practices.

“It is disappointing that today's government response rejects our recommendations.

“We still have concerns that the Cabinet Office's refusal to open up to an audit by the regulator sets a poor example for the rest of Whitehall and will mean suspicions of FOI mismanagement will persist.

“The internal review set up by the Government risks providing little comfort to many we heard from who have already lost trust in the system.”

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