UK government trying to kill the FOI act

I guess Climategate really put a burr under their saddle. Bishop Hill writes:

As it becomes clear that there will be a determined step by bureaucrats to neuter the FOI Act by introducing charges, it is increasingly important that the public take steps to nip this activity in the bud.

Please take a look at the Save FOI website, and in particular the How You Can Help page.

I suppose the USA will be next, we already have a spendthrift fee happy government that doesn’t give a whit about transparency.

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April 6, 2012 7:50 am

the most transparent government……
…..culture of corruption
We have to hurry up and pass it, so you can read what’s in it……………………

Pull My Finger
April 6, 2012 8:01 am

I hold hope for us in the USA, when the business of politics gets a little too funny we can usually get a good grassroots movement to throw the bums out. We saw it with the Tea Party (which forced Obama to push his Socialist tendencies underground), with the Regan Revolution, with Democrats victories in 2006 mid-terms, 1994 Republican mid-terms, etc. Plus the Supreme Court almost always strikes down demagoguery that manages to pass through congress… see Care, Obama which is likely going to be ruled unconstitutional.
I used to know a lot about European governance which I studied extensively in the 80s, not sure how much has changed, but as I recall you UK folks seem to vote for parties rather than individuals, so it would be virtually impossible for someone like Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or the dozens of non-GOP endoresed Tea Party candidates who won elections in 2010 to shake up the party machinery.

April 6, 2012 8:22 am

We’re FOI laws originally instigated by the Lefties to pry out government secrets?

Bloke down the pub
April 6, 2012 8:42 am

Tony Blair admitted on tv that he thought the introduction of the Foia to be his biggest mistake while in office, and that’s from the man who took us to war over non-existant wmd.

robert barclay
April 6, 2012 8:45 am

Here’s some information they can have for absolutely nothing. Heated co2 cannot pass that heat into the ocean because of SURFACE TENSION. Therefore there can be no increased evaporation therefore NO positive feedback therefore no AGW.

Victor Barney
April 6, 2012 9:12 am

Mr. Barney – your racist hateful comments are not welcome on WUWT – you’ve been banned – get out and STAY OUT.
You’ve been warned several times – Any further comments from you and I will lodge a harassment complaint with your internet service provider SAVVIS Communications Corporation.
If you persist, I will escalate further.
Anthony Watts

Disko Troop
April 6, 2012 9:21 am

Petition signed. Interesting to try an FOI to find out what they do with all the information they demand before they let you sign their government petition. Pass it to Kari Norgaard for her treatment program perhaps.
P.S. Could big oil send me some money so I can have a holiday in Rio this summer please, or do I have to join Greenpeace to get a free ticket?

April 6, 2012 9:39 am

@ robert barclay
Where do you people get this stuff from? Seriously, that has got to be one of the weirdest hypothesis I have ever seen attempted. “SURFACE TENSION”, really, how would that work?
See some real hypotheses expounded in the hundreds of full feature length videos at the the Fraudulent Climate of Hokum Science (where fraudulent climate science is exposed as hokum). All your favourite climate realist advocates; Monckton, Plimer, Carter, Corbyn, Soon, Helmer, Bellamy, Morner, Icke, Beck, Svensmark, D’Aleo, Goreham, Jones, Ventura, Farage, Klaus, Coleman, Hilder, Hunt, Delingpole, Dobbs, Balling, Singer, Horner, Morano, Inhofe, Lindzen, and much much more. Plus esoteric and arcane videos about climate and deception, World Government and UN dirty tricks. See them and Record them while you still have the chance, before the authorities shut them down. Special Alex Jones Page. Special Australia Page.
Click the name Axel above to go there now. Thank you.

Bob Diaz
April 6, 2012 9:42 am

Why would anyone want to block FOI? Unless they are trying to avoid being exposed for deception and corruption. I find this change very troubling; it encourages more deception and corruption.

Steve C
April 6, 2012 9:46 am

Another signature. Pass the message on, ye Brits, there aren’t nearly enough of us yet.

April 6, 2012 10:18 am

It’s the Animal Farm Effect. The lefties wanted to use the FOIA when they wanted military disclosures, but now that the lefties are in control of the social agenda, some pigs are more equal than others….

April 6, 2012 10:39 am

Depending on the jurisdiction, governments and institutions in the US have been charging fees for FOI requests for decades. Most are quite reasonable, but some are highly inflated to enhance revenue and/or discourage requests. These fees were allowed in response to the budgetary burden of FOI requests, and the use of FOI requests, by some, to harass.

April 6, 2012 10:55 am

Axel says:
April 6, 2012 at 9:39 am
… Special Alex Jones Page.

Is this the Alex Jones that insists 9/11 was an inside job? Sorry, anyone that can believe that has lost any chance of getting my ear on any topic.
REPLY: Ditto that, Anthony

April 6, 2012 11:23 am

Tony Blair said the FOIA was the worst thing he ever did, as it prevents the exercise of “good government”. Yes, the US will try to do the same, as will all others.
Democracies exist in theory more than practice, as is the belief in transparency. All efforts which limit the politicians’ movement are undesirable to them.

Robin Hewitt
April 6, 2012 11:53 am

FOI is self defeating. If a politician knows anything he puts in an email will be used against him come the next election, he will not send emails.
True FOI would put all the spies out of work.

David A. Evans
April 6, 2012 12:23 pm

Of course B Liar thinks the FOIA was a big mistake! He was/is arrogant enough to think he had the peoples support.
CaMORON knows he does not have the peoples support.
People do NOT trust politicians!
FOIA should not even be necessary, the information should be released as a matter of course.
Rope, Tree, Politician! some assembly required!

April 6, 2012 12:32 pm

This is what the Conservative party, who are now in power, promised before the 2010 general election:
“We will expand the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to include taxpayer-funded bodies such as Northern Rock and Network Rail, together with bodies such as the Local Government Association. This will give the public access to a huge amount of government information currently available only to Ministers.”
“The Right to Data Act will give members of the public a legally enforceable ‘Right to Data’, so that the public has the right to appeal if public bodies refuse requests for data collected by government. This radical policy will help transform the culture of the public sector from one that presumes secrecy to one that presumes datasets should be open and shared with the public on an ongoing basis.”
I think the big red button applies…

April 6, 2012 1:12 pm

Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings and commented:

April 6, 2012 2:13 pm

They (the civil “servants”) laid out the case for restricting the FOIA two months ago. I gave it a fisking here:
Also some of you might be interested to know that the situation is even worse in Scotland:

April 6, 2012 4:38 pm

cross posting from BH
That our public servants wish to lie to us and then make us pay for for them being found out is about as wrong as it gets…..
Having paid £1000-ish for a FoI request (in the UK they can charge already without these new provisions – so I assume there’s something more toxic hidden in the proposed legislation) and suffered nearly 2 years of obstruction, lies and dissembling from The UK Environment Agency we at Avoncliff North Mill (a small hydroelectricity project) are enthusiasts for FoI and as others have said here – think it actually doesn’t go far enough.
There should be some sanction on individuals and offences which relate to individual behavior relating to FoI along the lines of obstructing the course of justice.
We appealed our application twice and had an investigation by the UK Information Commissioners’s Office which concluded that the Environment Agency were liars and perpetrated a wholly dishonest obstructive response to FoI – we have had our fee refunded and are getting costs for the third party work involved in the application…
I see nothing in the proposals to implement fines for individual officials deliberate non compliance and unreasonable delay in fulfilling FoI requests.
We were unequivocally lied to , documents were hidden and unreasonably withheld – all with the connivance of the individual officials who perpetrated the law breaking and misdeeds we were seeking to document and expose.
Holding officials to account is hard enough without them being given the licence to ransom information – as we are discovering :-/

April 6, 2012 6:15 pm

Well, I dunno. It’s not clear that anything dramatic has ever been acquired through a proper FOIA process. SERIOUS revelations still come the old-fashioned way, through direct personal action by disgruntled insiders. Whether you call it whistle-blowing, investigative journalism, or hacking, it’s always been the same.
Also, laws requiring transparency usually backfire. Open-meeting laws force legislative bodies to take their real decisions even farther underground than they were before the laws. Each new campaign-funding law creates even more secret and unaccountable campaigns and heavier dependence on big money. Best to leave things alone.
If the FOIA process disappears, it just means less wasted effort.

April 6, 2012 7:16 pm

my point is that there is a law requiring transparency and it’s being roundly abused in a way that if it occurred in a criminal case (and ours is just tipping into the cops taking action for criminal conduct) would attract the attention of the law for obstruction and withholding evidence..
Our public servants for the most part I would like to believe give it their best effort and one can easily forgive some ignorance and oversight if it’s acknowledged. When officials behave illegally, seek to hide that lawbreaking and mislead any investigation there must be painful consequences for the perpetrators.
In the UK whistleblowing is inextricably linked with FoI – we have achieved some results from both.
What is required is a sea change in attitude in the UK towards public servant’s misdeeds. I’ve lost count of the number of unfortunates who’ve died as as result of our cops bungling with firearms – but as far as I’m aware – not a single shooter has been arraigned for manslaughter or indeed murder – overly dramatic you might say – but totally symptomatic of the attitude that FoI exposes…
FoI is only part of the recipe for bringing accountability to bear, the actual prosecution and conviction of abusers of public trust would go some way to redressing the horribly skewed situation which the incumbents have connived to create

April 6, 2012 7:22 pm

TomB says:
April 6, 2012 at 10:55 am
Is this the Alex Jones that insists 9/11 was an inside job? Sorry, anyone
that can believe that has lost any chance of getting my ear on any topic.

Considering that the majority of the 9/11 Commissioners, Police, Firemen, and even the American people believe that it was at least LIHOP if not MIHOP, at least you should be receptive to new evidence on that matter. However your rigid stance on that issue, should not preclude you listening to, and reading about the many other matters which Alex Jones does expound on
his show. Indeed he has had many Climate Skeptics on his program, including most recently over the past few days, both Marc Morano and Lord Monckton.
As a matter of fact the Special Alex Jones Page, has an embedded player with the latest 20 videos from his official YouTube channel, and streaming video applets, showing various live TV News Channels from Press TV (IRAN), Russia Today, and China News TV. (because you can’t believe mainstream media). Lord Monckton, Marc Morano, Chris Horner, James Delingpole, and many other familiar names, appear often on those channels, as well as Alex Jones himself.
So then TomB, you are simply biased and prejudiced, and shut your ears because of your preconceived ideas about Alex Jones Show, and indeed the content of that particular news video webpage. I could say much more about 9/11, but this is probably not the right forum for those views anyhow.

REPLY: Ditto that, Anthony
Well Anthony, I do respect your work, especially on weather stations, and the effort you put into this blog, and the varied subject matters on these pages, so then I would have expected that at least you would have looked at the material before jumping to the biased conclusions as TomB had done. Is it so hard for you to remember that people once said prejudicial things about your research methods, and stories about fraudulent temperature data, sponsored by US Government agencies, like NASA & NOAA (an inside job !!!)..
REPLY: Did you consider that maybe my issues with Alex Jones are far preceding this incident? You may notice I don’t link to him, nor to I repost any of his articles – my choice based on my experience. I also don’t allow postings on HAARP, bigfoot, UFO’s and other assorted garbage. 9/11 conspiracy theory is also a banned topic, for solid reasons. See the policy page – end of discussion – Anthony

April 6, 2012 9:51 pm

[snip – lets not go there – please look it up yourself – Anthony]

Evan Jones
April 7, 2012 5:59 am

government that doesn’t give a whit about transparency.
Quite the contrary. The government is quite concerned about transparency. Extremely concerned. Almost panicky, I think.

April 7, 2012 9:27 am

OK Anthony, I hear what you say, and after all this is your blog, and you are entitled to set the rules. Note that it was TomB who brought up the 9/11 issue, I didn’t mention this in my original posting. My Alex Jones News page is about alternative news, including some climate related stuff that mainstream USA broadcasters will not touch with a barge pole.
On the day of my original posting, videos from Marc Morano & Lord Monckton were available. This was what was relevant to the discussion here as FOI was mentioned in some of the conversations in several videos, and how the EPA, NOAA, NASA, and other bureaucratic organisations intend to prevent or make it very expensive to obtain information and data in the future. These videos are now superceeded by others ( I only show the latest 20 video postings by Jones).
So then I am happy to abide by whatever rules that you set out, but I can’t help thinking that it was TomB who breached these rules, and egged you on so that you made your remark. Perhaps it would have been better to redact that original 9/11 remark of TomB’s, which actually wasn’t helpful, and may have persuaded others not to look at the new information released ny Morano & Monckton on Alex Jones TV Show.
I do not necessarily ask you to publish this latest reply of mine, but however I would wish that you appreciate that I am not trying to wind you up deliberately over 9/11, or indeed anything else which you may take personal exception towards. You versus Alex Jones ? I don’t want to hold the coats, or be the referee in that particular contest, thank you. I appreciate your frankness, and tolerance of other’s views generally though.
REPLY: Thanks for understanding, I have to set some boundaries – Anthony

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