4 thoughts on “Researching Reform: ‘There Is No Freedom Of Information Once We Charge For It’

  1. You just beat me to the punch there! Also, if the information required is liable to expose a state agency or employee of criminality, your respondent will claim the cost of retrieval and collation is too high. Predictable stuff.

  2. I do wonder if perhaps there is something in the government’s thinking on this. The government and I are, you will agree, simply two individual bodies of equal social and legal standing. If, whenever I wish to ask my government a serious question, I will be charged five-hundred ‘euros’ (what is that in guineas?) then no-one could object to my reciprocating with a five-hundred euro charge for each equally serious enquiry from the Inland Revenue, the various local councils etcetera, and even Her Maj’s Customs and Excise when returning from the Costa del Barfalot.

    ‘How many litres of Chateau Knockitback are you bringing in, sir?’

    ‘Before I tell you, officer, that will be five-hundred euros please…’

    etc etc etc. Yours, Mr Fatt-Chance of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    p.s., unless, of course, ‘our’ government is to sink into some sort of of secrecy behind a pay-wall, accessible only to deep-pocketed corporations?

  3. I’ve been on both sides of this fence and there is already a power to charge for dealing with requests that take more than a certain number of man-hours to produce, the cost of that time being £480 calculated at, I’m afraid, a fairly low hourly rate. There are a considerable number of exemptions to FOI, including personal data protection, legal professional privilege, confidentiality, etc. One you hear less of is that an authority can refer a requestor to an alternative source of the information who would charge for the service, and nor are you obliged to create a record in order to satisfy a request.
    Which is why many meetings, particularly in Central Govt, are inadequately or no longer minuted.

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