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MPs show concern over proposals to change FOI charging rules

More than 80 MPs have so far signed an Early Day Motion expressing concern that the Government is considering changes to the charging arrangements under the Freedom of Information Act.

The motion was tabled by an all-party group of MPs and the Campaign for Freedom of Information, which has helped to co-ordinate it, has written to all MPs encouraging them to sign. A total of 85 MPs has so far done so.

Responding to a Constitutional Affairs Committee report on the first year of the FOI Act, the Government has now said it is ‘minded to’ include reading time, consideration time and consultation time in the calculation of the appropriate limit above which requests can be refused on cost grounds.

Government departments can refuse to answer a request if it costs more than £600 to find the information and other authorities can refuse if it costs more than £450.

It is also considering allowing all the requests made to an authority by the same person or organisation to be refused if their combined cost exceeds the £600 or £450 limit.