The Protection of Freedoms Bill will be debated in the House of Lords again tomorrow. This is our chance to get an exemption for pre-publication research from Freedom of Information requests, in line with the exemptions in Scottish and US legislation. more–>
Open debate and transparency in research are very important, and Universities UK supports moves to increase access to research data through measures like open access repositories. But the Freedom of Information Act is the wrong tool for the job. We don’t think Parliament envisaged how it would apply within universities, and especially to university research, when the Act was passed in 2000. In any case, since that time, the proportion of funding universities get from public sources has fallen considerably, and will continue to fall, making their inclusion within the definition of ‘public authorities’ all the more strange.
Meanwhile, over in the House of Commons, the Justice Committee has just announced its Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the FOI Act. This will offer us another opportunity to raise these concerns, even if we are not successful in pushing for an amendment to the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
All support in our efforts will be gratefully received!