This FOI release reveals a lot of public support for going 100% fair trade on tea and coffee:

“There were no comments that didn’t support inclusion of this criterion 50% fair trade]. The majority of those who responded on this criterion felt it was not ambitious enough and should be either increased to 100% for tea and coffee or that other products such as bananas and cocoa should be included”

But Government can’t go to 100% because:
“The 50% also allows some flexibility as EU public procurement laws make it impossible to specify fairly traded produce and other methods need to be used.”

The whole point of fair trade is excluding non-fair trade suppliers from the buying process. Someone has to get this fixed.

I am looking for a good MP to help get the Protection of Freedoms Bill amended. The changes I want made relate to Freedom of Information (FOI). Under the current FOI Act a company owned by one public body is (generally) subject to FOI itself but there is a loophole in that a company jointly owned by two or more public bodies (generally) isn’t. The Protection of Freedoms Bill seeks to close this loophole which is very welcome but there is a chance to close a few more loopholes at the same time and give FOI law a boost. If you are the good MP I refer to please get in touch (@confirmordeny)

changes needed Protection of Freedoms Bill (93)
in summary:

  • the term “wholly owned” is part of the problem as it means one privately owned share in 100 or even in 1,000 can be enough to mean a company is not publicly accountable.
  • change this to include companies where 95% of the voting shares (95% of the members for companies limited by guarantee) are owned by public bodies
  • make sure Scottish Public authorities are included when calculating proportion owned by public sector

Dear Information Commissioner
I am writing in a personal capacity to seek clarification about the ICO’s approach to requests to specific Government Ministers.

It has come to my attention that the ICO has stated in a letter that “the Ministers for Health” and the “Prime Minister” are not public authorities for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 FS50173182[1] . Is this the ICO’s official position?

“Any government department” is included in the list of public authorities in schedule 1. In Section 84 of the Act defines the term “government department” is define to include “any other body or authority exercising statutory functions on behalf of the Crown”.

The Prime Minister exercises a number of important statutory functions on behalf of the Crown for example the PM has the power to make emergency regulations under section 20 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

In fact, all ministers exercise statutory functions on behalf of the Crown for example the “Power of Ministers and departments to offset greenhouse gas emission” under section 87 of the Climate Change Act 2008.

Even if however the Commissioner takes the view that individual ministers are not public authorities is it not the case that the information they hold in their capacity as ministers is information held by a Government Department or by another person on behalf of a Government department?

Schedule 1 of the Act lists public bodies as oppose to listing employees, directors, agents or officers of such bodies. I consider that this supports my view that one can make a valid FOI request to the Prime Minister or any other Minister.

To be clear I am not interested in information held by ministers in their capacity of being an MP. I am only interested in information they hold by virtue of being a minister.

I would be most grateful if you could provide clarification on this point.

[1] http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/10189/response/26089/attach/2/R%20scanned%20copies%20of%20all%20FOI%20cases%20listed%20in%20request.PDF.pdf

regards,