Guernsey States agree access to information code

A code governing what information held by Guernsey States can be released to the public has been agreed by deputies.

The code falls short of a Freedom of Information Act like the one in place in the UK and being introduced in the Isle of Man and Jersey.

States members agreed changes to the proposals including setting up an independent right of appeal and a recording system for requests.

Fifteen reasons for not disclosing information have been listed.

These include security, legal, external affairs, commercial and "voluminous or vexatious" requests.

Some politicians were critical of the amount of exceptions, suggesting the code did not go any further than the current situation for which there are no rules or legislation.

'Develops greater trust'

Chief Minister Peter Harwood said: "If there is to be non-disclosure it has to be justified."

Following a motion approved by the States, the Policy Council, which was behind the proposals, will have to report back by March 2015 on how effective the system has been and the possible introduction of automatic disclosure rules, like the "30 year rule" in the UK.

Deputy Harwood said: "The principles of access to information in open government are an important part of a modern and mature democracy.

"Transparency encourages scrutiny, it forces government to think about what they are doing and how they are doing it, it helps to increase the understanding of the process of government to the people it serves and consequently maintains and develops greater trust in government."

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