HC Deb 08 April 1998 vol 310 cc309-10W
Sir Raymond Powell

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he intends to publish the Freedom of Information Bill; and what factors underlie the length of time taken over its preparation. [38123]

Dr. David Clark

I expect to publish a draft Bill later in the year, which will continue the consultation process started with the White Paper "Your Right to Know". In the light of comments on this, a Bill will be introduced into Parliament as soon as the legislative timetable permits.

The consultation period on the White paper formally ended on 28 February, although a significant number of responses came in after this date. I am now considering the main points arising from the consultation, and how we should best take account of them in preparing the draft Bill. Naturally, the exercise has added time to the overall process, however I strongly believe that it is time well spent, since consultation is vital if we are to develop legislation which is to make a genuine and lasting contribution to opening up government.