Thursday, 18 April 2013

Questions (13)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

13. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he will introduce the Freedom of Information Bill 2012 in the Dáil. [17839/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

In July 2012 the Government approved the drafting by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel of a Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) on the basis of the General Scheme of a Bill. The General Scheme was also published at that time and was submitted to the Oireachtas Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee for a pre-legislative scrutiny process.

As the Deputy will be aware the purpose of the Bill is to address the main substantive restrictions in access to official information introduced in 2003, to extend Freedom of Information to all public bodies, to provide a framework for the extension of FOI to non-public bodies in receipt of significant funding from the Exchequer as well as to consolidate, modernise and update the legislation, including in light of detailed recommendations made by the Information Commissioner.

Pending receipt of the report of the Committee and consideration of its recommendations, drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage and it is currently planned that following Government consideration the Bill will be published during the current Oireachtas session. It is also expected that the final Bill will reflect issues emerging from the operational review of Freedom of Information which I have recently initiated which may be amenable to a legislative solution. The review is being conducted by an expert external group and an internal group composed of representatives of Government Departments and some public bodies in the health and education sector.