Ministers are to be urged to strengthen freedom of information (FoI) laws and extend them to charities and private companies.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake is to table a proposed law change which would prevent ministers from overruling decisions by the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal.
No to the veto
His plans would also stop the House of Commons Speaker from vetoing FoI requests without a public-interest test being applied, as well as a limit on how much time public authorities can take when deciding whether the release of information is in the public interest.
His extension of the existing laws would result in social enterprises, charities and private companies contracted to carry out work for public authorities being subject to FoI requests.
The move comes after The Daily Telegraph reported last month that the government was considering extending the Freedom of Information Act to ensure greater transparency about how charities spent public money.
In a statement, Brake said: “A growing proportion of public sector work is carried out by private companies such as G4S or Serco and social enterprises and charities such as Kids Company.
“Public sector work carried out by these organisations should be treated in the same way, from a freedom of information perspective, as a public authority carrying out this work. It is for this reason that I seeking to extend the Freedom of Information Act to cover private sector companies, social enterprises and charities.”
An ‘overwhelming obligation’
The charity chief executives body Acevo and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations have both warned against extending legislation to include charities, claiming that it would be a “difficult and overwhelming obligation” for many charities.
The plans will be put forward in the House of Commons today (Tuesday).
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