Ministry of Justice

Greater transparency in Freedom of Information

30 March 2010

Freedom of Information logo

The Freedom of Information Act will be extended to cover four more public bodies and increase the public’s right to access information, Justice Minister Michael Wills announced today.

The bodies covered by the change are: the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and Academy Trusts – the bodies responsible for Academy Schools.

Michael Wills said:

‘Since we introduced the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) there has been a major and welcome increase in the amount of information that the public have access to. This has transformed our politics, making Government and other public organisations far more open and transparent, and answerable to UK citizens.

‘Today’s changes will increase this transparency and openness. The organisations we will add to the Act make key decisions which affect the lives of millions of people across the country. It is only right that they are also subject to the FOI Act and the additional accountability it brings to decision-making.’

The changes are expected to come into force in October 2011 and are in response to a consultation held in 2007-08. The Government began further consultation with the four bodies involved in July 2009.

The Government is also considering extending the scope of the FOI Act further still to include additional bodies, and will take forward further consultation with bodies such as Network Rail and utility companies.

Today’s announcement builds on other recent initiatives to improve access to information. These include reducing the period after which Government records become available to the public from 30 years to 20 years, and the launch of www.data.gov.uk in January 2010 which provided the public with easier access to large amounts of public sector data.

Notes to editors

  1. The Act will be extended by secondary legislation: an Order made under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.
  2. The relevant order will be laid as soon as practicable in the next parliamentary session. It is subject to the affirmative procedure and so will be subject to debate in both Houses of Parliament.
  3. The commencement date for the Order will be October 2011. This will allow time for the nominated bodies to prepare for their inclusion in the Act – for example to establish processes for responding to requests under the Act and to put in place a publication scheme.
  4. For more information contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.