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Sep 18th, 2015

Freedom of Information: government consultation on fees

By Cara Bevington

The government has a plan that’ll make it harder for us to find out what they’re really up to. They want to introduce fees – of up to £600! – for people who use Freedom of Information laws to find out the truth about what they’re doing. [1] But we’ve got until this Friday to have our say and knock these plans out of the water.

Houses of Parliament in London

Houses of Parliament in London

The government has been forced to hold a public consultation on their cover-up plan. They’re trying to keep this under the radar, and aren’t expecting many responses. So if thousands of us feed in, we could overwhelm their consultation and topple these plans to make government information harder to get hold of.

Please could you take a few minutes to send a message to the consultation? It was meant to have closed already, but the Ministry of Justice have extended the consultation period to Friday 18 September, so we don’t have long left. There’s some suggested text to make it as simple as possible. Every single message we send will make it harder for the government to get away with this cover up. https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/FOI-fees-consultation

The Freedom of Information law means that journalists, academics and campaigners can find out what the government is really up to. The list of scandals it has helped laid bare is endless: it exposed the MP expenses scandal, helped uncover details of historic child abuse allegations and revealed the huge number of NHS contracts being handed out to profit-hungry companies.

The government already have a bad track record on Freedom of Information. The panel they appointed to review the law is stacked with people who’ve already admitted they hate it. Introducing steep fees for appeals on FOI requests is just another attempt to limit the public’s right to know what politicians are up to.

38 Degrees is a movement of people fighting to make our democracy work better. We hold our politicians to account, and make sure that politicians hear the voices of ordinary people. But we can’t do that if we’re shut out. Unless we stop this dodgy cover up, it’s going to be even harder to know what politicians are getting up to in our name. If thousands of us stand up against these plans, we can make them think twice. Please click here to send your message now: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/FOI-fees-consultation

PS: Have you already signed the petition calling on the Government to protect FOI? If not, sign it here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/freedom-of-information

NOTES: [1] Fees would apply only if someone’s first FOI request is not granted for any reason – which might be the government dragging its heels. It would cost £100 for a written appeal and £600 for a court hearing.


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