By Alex Montague
No limits on freedom of information? What about the 13 pages of exemptions
Simon Jenkins takes a hefty swing at the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that its “total disclosure” damages good government. (For the digital revolution, this is the Robespierre moment, 10 July). But there is no “total disclosure” under FOI as anyone who has grappled with the act’s 13 pages of exemptions knows.
The act exempts information where disclosure is likely to be harmful and/or contrary to the public interest. It permits a ministerial veto over any order to disclose in the public interest. Some information is exempt regardless of harm or public interest.
Jenkins claims the level of disclosure extends to “even the most personal communication between individuals”. It does not. Personal information, about family matters for example, is vigorously protected. But officials cannot circumvent FoI by discussing government business via personal email accounts.
Maurice Frankel | The Guardian | July 18th 2012
East Midlands Trains gets £46m bail-out from government
East Midlands Trains has been given £46m of taxpayers’ money to make the company profitable again.
Last year the train operator made a loss of £25m in six months and under the terms of it franchise agreement with the government was eligible for a revenue support grant.
The RMT Union said the pay-out was “corporate welfare”.
The bail-out was revealed by the Department for Transport in a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.
BBC News | July 18 2012
Children under 10 committed over 100 crimes a month in Scotland last year
CHILDREN under ten in Scotland commit almost 100 crimes a month, according to figures released under Freedom of Information.
Police are called to incidents including breach of the peace, vandalism, assault, sexual exposure, racially aggravated conduct and possession of a blade involving young tearaways on a daily basis.
Over the course of the past three years, there have been 3,202 reports, with figures rising slightly year on year. In 2011-12, there were 1,095 incidents – 36 more than the previous year’s total and 47 more than 2009-10.
Gareth Rose | The Scotsman | July 20th 2012