25 Oct 2007 12:14 PM
Change in culture to make Government more open

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE News Release (No:130/07) issued by The Government News Network on 25 October 2007

A package of measures to enhance openness and increase public access to information, including a review of the "30-year rule" and extending the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, has been announced by the Prime Minister.

The review of the "30-year rule"- the date by which government departments must transfer public records to The National Archives and the date at which records become historical - could lead to an increase in access to government records and will include recommendations on reducing the release of data from 30 years.

The Government is also to consult formally on extending the application of the Freedom of Information Act to include a range of organisations that perform public functions.

The consultation launched today will run for three months.

A review will also be launched looking into the way we share and protect personal information in the public and private sector. The review and any recommendations will be produced by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner and Professor Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and published in the first half of 2008.

As well as plans for the two reviews and new consultation, the Government is also publishing its response to the two consultations carried out earlier this year on whether to amend the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. The Government has listened to the views of those who responded and decided not to proceed with proposals to amend the regulations.

The Ministry of Justice's reply to The Constitutional Affairs Select Committee's Report Freedom of Information: the Government's proposals for reform is also being published today.

Notes to Editors

1. The consultation response can be found at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp2806.htm

2. The original consultation paper and supplementary paper on the Fees regulations can be found at: http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/dpr2007/cp2806.htm

3. The consultation on FOI section 5 can be found at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp2707.htm

4. Richard Thomas is the Information Commissioner. The Information Commission is the UK's independent authority charged with promoting access to official information and protecting personal information.

5. Dr Mark Walport Ph.D., MB. Bchir is a Director of the Wellcome Trust. He is a member of the Council for Science and Technology, the Government top-level independent advisory body on science and technology policy issues.

6. The second Freedom of Information annual report was published on 20 June 2007 and can be found at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/freedomofinformationquarterly.htm

7. The Freedom of Information Act was passed on 30 November 2000 and covers 100,000 public authorities.

8. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to the UK Government and to public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. See the Scottish Executive website for the Freedom of Information Act Scotland 2002 at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/FOI

9. Further information about Freedom of Information can be found at: http://www.foi.gov.uk