Electoral Officers might – one day in the distant future – be fully accountable

The Freedom of Information (Extension) Bill is slowly (very, very slowly) wending its way through parliament and, as the title suggests, hopes to extend the reach of the FOI Act. The Statement of Purpose (in full here) sums up the aims:

‘The Freedom of Information (Extension) Bill will seek to make housing associations, local safeguarding children boards, Electoral Registration Officers, Returning Officers and the Housing Ombudsman public authorities for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, whilst making information held by persons contracting with public authorities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000…’


for the very, very, very slow timetable.

One thought on “Electoral Officers might – one day in the distant future – be fully accountable

  1. To be honest, I cannot see the current government genuinely supporting extension of FoI to government outsourcers because:

    a. It will open a shed-load of opportunities for outsourcer screw-ups to be exposed to the light of day this embarrassing a government that has privatisation and outsourcing as THE central dogma of its policies (even if the don’t exactly call it privatisation or outsourcing in their manifesto);

    b. It will be equally embarrassing for the outsourcers themselves, and their ultra-rich owners – who also often just happen to be Tory Party sponsors – and it seems to me to be very doubtful indeed that the government would put its Party’s funding in jeopardy by making its outsourcers at risk of embarrassment.

    So that does perhaps explain why the FoI (Extension) Bill is moving so slowly, because to kill it off would be an admission that this government does not want to be transparent because transparency leads to accountability, and I would imagine that it is much better to slow its progress to a snail’s pace (or slower) because slow progress is easy to explain away – as Sir Humphrey would say, the wheels of law-making have to turn slowly in order to ensure that the bill is of the high quality necessary to deliver the openness that is at the heart of the government’s thinking even if it does mean that the bill will only come forward for a vote in the fullness of time and at the appropriate opportunity.


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