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Official Documents

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what reasons the Government have not signed the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents. (284712)

The UK Government must be satisfied that their laws are compatible with the provisions of the Convention before they can make any decision to sign and then ratify the Convention.

On 10 June 2009, the Prime Minister announced that the UK Government intended to reduce the time taken to open official records to the public from 30 to 20 years, and to make two amendments to the exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to ensure that information access arrangements allow essential constitutional relationships and conventions to be preserved. These proposed amendments would have an impact upon our freedom of information legislation and so must first be carefully assessed.

The UK’s freedom of information regime is among the most open and rigorous in the world. It already goes further than the standards of the Convention in a number of areas.