The following recent press announcement from the UK Ministry of Justice may be of interest to readers of the blog:
The government has today [16 July] set out plans to make sure that more public information is made available and is preserved for future generations.
Justice Minister, Michael Wills, has today announced the publication of a new Code of Practice on managing digital and other records, and the government’s plans to extend the Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of Information depends on good record keeping and the preservation of information is important if we are to further increase transparency in public life. The updated Code of Practice is a significant step in ensuring that key records remain accessible to public bodies for day to day business and are preserved for future generations. The Code recommends public bodies across the country introduce a strategy for the preservation of digital records to ensure that they can continue to be accessed and used and are resilient to future changes in technology.
The government has also published its response to the consultation on extending the Freedom of Information Act. The government’s response reflects the considerable support for extending the Act. A further consultation will now be undertaken with those proposed for inclusion within the scope of the Act: Academies, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
This is an initial step and further consultations with Network Rail and utility companies will examine how the Freedom of Information Act could apply to other bodies.
These publications support the government’s plans to increase the accessibility of public information and promote the culture of openness and transparency in public life. On 10 June the Prime Minister committed to a reduction of the 30 year rule to 20 years in response to the 30 Year Rule Review. The government is considering carefully the practical details of implementing a new rule and aims to publish its full response in late summer.
Michael Wills, Justice Minister, said:
‘The introduction of the Freedom of Information Act has significantly increased transparency in public life and the right to access information has become a cornerstone of our democracy.
‘The steps we are taking today – to keep and preserve public information for the future and extend the Freedom of Information Act – are significant if we are to truly promote the culture of openness in public life.’
The Code is an updated 2009 version of the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the management of records issued under section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.