Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c. 36) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that creates a public "right of access" to information held by public authorities. It is the implementation of freedom of information legislation in the United Kingdom on a national level. Its application is limited in Scotland (which has its own freedom of information legislation) to UK Government offices located in Scotland. The Act implements a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party in the 1997 general election, developed by David Clark as a 1997 White Paper. The final version of the Act is believed[by whom?] to have been diluted from that proposed while Labour was in opposition. The full provisions of the act came into force on 1 January 2005.

Freedom of Information Act 2000
Long titleAn Act to make provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them and to amend the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Public Records Act 1958; and for connected purposes.
Citation2000 c. 36
Territorial extentEngland and Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland
Royal assent30 November 2000
Commencement30 November 2000 (part)[1]
30 January 2001 (part)[1]
14 May 2001 (part)[2][3]
Other legislation
Relates toFreedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
Status: Current legislation
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Act was the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor's Department (now renamed the Ministry of Justice). However, freedom of information policy is now the responsibility of the Cabinet Office.[4] The Act led to the renaming of the Data Protection Commissioner (set up to administer the Data Protection Act 1998), who is now known as the Information Commissioner. The Office of the Information Commissioner oversees the operation of the Act.

A second freedom of information law is in existence in the UK, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 13). It was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2002, to cover public bodies over which the Holyrood parliament, rather than Westminster, has jurisdiction. For these institutions, it fulfils the same purpose as the 2000 Act.

Around 120,000 requests were made in the first year that the Act was in force.[5] Private citizens made 60% of them, with businesses and journalists accounting for 20% and 10% respectively. However requests from journalists tended to be more complex and consequently more expensive. They accounted for around 10% of initial FoI requests made to central government but 20% of the costs of officials’ time in dealing with the requests.[5] The Act cost £35.5 million in 2005.[6]