The Conservative Government’s plans to curb the powers of the Freedom of Information Act would have a detrimental impact on Welsh democracy and public services, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has said.
The UK Conservative Government has established a Commission to look into whether the Act is ‘too expensive and overly intrusive’. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe any plans to restrict use of the FOI Act would make it more difficult for people to scrutinise the Welsh Government.
In contrast to the Conservatives, Kirsty Williams AM is calling for the FOI Act to be expanded, so that people can also request information from private sector contracts delivering public services, such as housing associations, water companies and the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
Kirsty Williams AM said:
“The Conservatives want to close down any sort of transparency. They want key information to be hoarded by the few.
“Any plans to water down the Freedom of Information Act would badly affect our ability to not only hold the UK Government to account, but also the Welsh Government too.
“Week after week major failings by the Labour Welsh Government are revealed via the FOI act. That is for the good of democracy, so we can scrutinise the government and ensure improvement in our public services. The Liberal Democrats will fight tooth and nail to ensure the Act isn’t watered down.
“In contrast to the evasive Tory party, I believe it’s time to expand the powers of the FOI Act. We want to see the biggest overhaul of freedom of information since its introduction by bringing housing associations, water companies and the ‘Big Six’ energy companies within the scope of the Act. All of these should be opened up for public accountability.”