Catherine West – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Catherine West on 2016-02-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of freedom of information requirements in Bermuda; and what plans he has to promote transparency in that territory.

James Duddridge

Freedom of information policy in Bermuda is the responsibility of the Government of Bermuda. The Public Access to Information Act 2010 (PATI) came fully into operation on 1 April 2014. It is similar in many respects to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act and provides for an Information Commissioner. The Governor believes that it has started well but the first appeals under the Act’s provisions are only now coming before the Commissioner.

Future developments in this area are a matter for the Government of Bermuda. I understand that legislation on data protection, the Personal Information Protection Act, is currently before the Bermuda House of Assembly, with provisions designed to meet EU data protection requirements and, again, similar to the UK Data Protection Act. The 2012 White Paper states our commitments on working with the governments of the Overseas Territories on improving transparency and accountability. We are supporting these governments in moving towards systems of open government through sharing best practice and capacity building. This is a devolved area of competence and it is for Territory governments to develop a system that meets their particular requirements and circumstances.