The Freedom of Information Act is a thing of beauty. So much so that Tony Blair described the prime minister that introduced the Act as an ‘idiot, a ‘naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop’.
Government departments have now taken it upon themselves to publish a list of requests (although not necessarily refused requests – more of that later).
Take, for instance, the Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs. Somewhere in the bowels of [redacted], some poor civil servant has to, presumably with a straight face, reply to [redacted]’s request for – long breath – ‘REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED BY MINISTERS, OR THEIR OFFICES, RELATING TO TAKEAWAY COFFEE CUPS SINCE 11 MARCH AND INFORMATION RELATING TO RESPONDING TO MEDIA ENQUIRIES ON THIS TOPIC’. I am not sure that the request was originally in capitals. Although I expect it was.
And, lo and behold, we are treated to the delights of the requests made to Rory Stewart OBE MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. Discussions abound about Guinness (‘And a jolly good drink it is, too’), an 18-point manifesto for cup eradication, something about quality control and Pareto, an offer of free cups together with a very scary disclaimer, and finally a letter with far too many ‘inverted’ commas.
Do give them a read. Although probably best if you don’t print them out.