The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to be a burden


We have the usual delightful sight of a bureaucracy complaining about the very point and purpose of something. For this is what is happening here, local authorities complaining about the manner in which the Freedom of Information Act is a burden upon them. Yes, it's supposed to be, that's what it is for, the purpose, point and design of the entire thing.

Councils, leading universities and dozens of other public bodies have demanded that Britain's freedom of information laws should be significantly weakened to make it easier for them to refuse requests. Local authorities said that requests should be subject to fees and that the limit on the amount of time they have to spend responding to them should be lowered from just 18 hours to eight. The Local Government Association described freedom of information laws as a "burden" and even suggested that the cost of censoring material that they release to members of the public should be accounted for when they respond.

That burden being that the various levels of government currently swallow some 40% of everything that we all produce in any one year. And we thus get to know what the hell you're all doing with that loot.

Yes, we get to know, in detail, how you've spent the cash, who you've talked to about how to spend it, what evidence you've used to reach your spending decisions, we get to demand management reports from our employees. And we also get to ask pointed questions about specific pieces and parts of the process: thus our right to make such information requests.

And is this a burden to those who must respond? Sure it is, just like having any manager breathing over your shoulder is a burden. But then that's the point of it, that it should be a burden. No, fees should not be charged: why should we have to pay in order to find out how you're spending our money?

If anything, the law should be further liberalised to as to increase that burden, not restricted.