The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has called for the commission reviewing the freedom of information law to be disbanded, describing the stance of his party’s own peer Lord Carlile and others on the commission as one-sided.
The commission was established in July by Conservative Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock to examine whether the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2000 – which was introduced by the last Labour government – is too expensive and intrusive.
“The group looking into it strikes me at least to have a bias towards limiting access to FoI requests for quite spurious reasons,” said Farron. “I’m sure there is a cost – an administrative cost and a time cost – to providing this information, but that’s the price you pay for living in a liberal society.”…
“I’m all for reviewing legislation 16 years since it came in – I think that’s a perfectly sensible thing to do – but if you start off your exercise with a group of people whose instincts are to rein in the powers then that’s illiberal.” [The Guardian]
Usually when a party leader criticises the actions of one of their own peers as Tim Farron is doing with Alex Carlile in this case it causes a controversy, although given Carlile’s low reputation on civil liberties matters these days* with most Liberal Democrat members, there is unlikely to be much of a controversy on this one.
* Many years back Carlile was quite pioneering in his support of various civil liberties issues, but in more recent years his line on civil liberties has put him consistently at odds with the rest of the party, such as his attempts to reintroduce the Snoopers’ Charter legislation which Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems had vetoed.