Isle of Man News - POSTED Mon 10-02-2014

Freedom of information law a step closer

by Joanne Clague

Freedom of information law a step closer

Public consultation on long awaited freedom of information legislation gets under way today.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said: 'The Council of Ministers remains committed to the promotion of open government but not at the expense of other things that are important to the public. The bill going out to consultation will therefore seek to strike a balance between openness, legitimate confidentiality and what the Island can realistically afford.'

The consultation period on a draft Freedom of Information bill will run for a period of six weeks. The type and range of information available is expected to be similar to what is already obtainable under an existing code of practice that has been in place since 1996. A key difference would be that a Freedom of Information act would give the public a legal right to access information.

Warning that even with the legislation there will still be areas where 'legitimate confidentiality' has to be protected, Mr Bell said: 'This is wide ranging and complex legislation with implications for the whole of the public sector. It is essential that we get this Bill right, so that it works effectively for the public without detriment to their services, and the consultation is all part of the process of giving it proper consideration.'


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