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Irish Information Commissioner calls for expanded FOI Act

Irish Information Commissioner calls for expanded FOI Act.      

Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has urged the Government to extend the remit of the Freedom of Information Act under which the public can have access to information about State bodies.

At the launch of her annual report for 2011 this morning, Ms O’Reilly said she looked forward to the publication of new legislation promised in the Programme for Government to restore information legislation to “its pre-2003 state”.

Amendments to the Freedom of Information Acts in 2003 introduced additional restrictions on public access to certain information held by public bodies.

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Freedom of information being difficult, inconvenient or expensive is not a reason to seek to limit its role

Ed Hammond argues that changes to the existing Freedom of Information regime could fatally flaw the openness and transparency of public authorities in the UK.

The House of Commons Justice Select Committee’s post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act has seen a number of witnesses and members of the Committee positing some possibilities for the future of Freedom of Information (FOI) that many will find troubling. This includes the risk that charges for requests might be introduced, or that requests from different kinds of requesters could be dealt with in different ways. There are also suggestions arising from the contention that a “chilling effect” might exist whereby civil servants might be unwilling to provide ministers with full and frank advice if they know that this advice might be subject to a successful FOI request at some point in the future.

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Ed Hammond | LSE | 30th May 2012

National Botanic Garden of Wales ‘would not survive’ without funds

THE National Botanic Garden of Wales will not be able to survive in the foreseeable future without outside funds, a previously confidential report reveals.

The report — obtained by the Evening Post via a Freedom of Information request — was produced for the Welsh Government ahead of it agreeing a funding package, which will see the garden receive £1,570,000 from the taxpayer over this year and next year.

Accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), which produced the report, concluded: “The National Botanic Garden of Wales … is not financially sustainable without external funding. This position will not change in the foreseeable future.”

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South Wales Evening Post | 30th May 2012

Suffolk: Cost of temps doubles in a year to £7m at county council

New figures, released to the Star following a Freedom of Information request, reveal that Suffolk County Council has spent more than £7million employing temps since January 2011.

In comparison, the council spent £6.2m on hiring temporary staff over a two-year period from 2009 to the beginning of 2011.

Andrew Cann, the Lib Dems’ finance spokesman, said he was “completely shocked” to learn that the figure had more than doubled in a year, during a time of job cuts.

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Hollie-Rae Merrick | EADT24 | 30th May 2012

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