The Sword: How MPs and Peers Have Used Freedom of Information in the UK
20 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2013
Date Written: January 6, 2010
As part of a detailed study of the impact of the Freedom of Information Act upon the UK Parliament, this paper examines to what extent FOI is used by Parliament to hold the government to account. The research is predicated upon a number of hypotheses based upon MPs’ use of FOI in other regimes; that MPs and peers are creatures of habit, and will be slow to use FOI in preference to traditional tools; MPs and peers will use FOI in combination with other parliamentary tools to access information rather than in isolation; only a small minority of MPs and peers will make systematic use of FOI.
The research assess how many FOI requests are made by MPs and peers, on what subjects, and compares the benefits and costs of using FOI against more traditional parliamentary methods of obtaining information. This paper presents some of the preliminary findings based upon interviews with MPs and researchers, analysis of PQs and debates and Freedom of information requests to central government departments. It will also compare and contrast the UK experience with the use of FOI by Parliament in other countries.
Keywords: Freedom of Information, Parliament, Westminster, Accountability
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