Falconer: FOIA is not a ‘political football’

The Lord Chancellor has accused the Conservative Party of using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a ‘political football’ after revealing that the Tories have made the biggest number of requests of any single organisation.

Speaking at a seminar at Centrepoint, hosted by University College London, Lord Falconer, who is Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said: ‘The Opposition is choosing to use it as a political football. So it is not much of a shock to find that as many as 130 requests have come from the shadow cabinet.’

More than half the requests for information to be released under the FOIA are from journalists, and a third are from the public, he added.

However, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Julian Lewis told PRWeek that his party had shown restraint by only submitting 12 requests to each government department.

‘The Government was happy to use the Freedom of Information Act as a political football when they boasted about bringing it in, but they squeal like stuck pigs when we use it in moderation,’ responded Lewis.

Questions from the opposition submitted under the FOIA include: where is the origin of foot-and-mouth disease? and why did the Government change its policy on holding a referendum on the EU constitution?

The FOIA came into force on 1 January and is designed to encourage a more open and accountable government.

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