About 4,000 requests have been received across central government following the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act on 1 January.
However, MPs and journalists expressed frustration at the lack of positive responses to their requests - amid claims the Government has breached its own legislation by failing to meet the Freedom of Information Act's statutory deadline.
Scores of requests have been refused and some departments have been using stock replies to deny access to information, issuing refusal letters to different people using identical wording.
Of the 70 inquiries made by The Independent only 10 have been successful. Almost half were turned down flat, the remainder are still waiting a reply.
In two of the replies the Government conceded it had breached its own legislation by failing to meet the 20-working-day deadline that expired yesterday.
Ministers also admitted they had no idea how many of the 362 requests made on the first day the legislation came into force had been answered.
Yet, in 2000, Labour postponed the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act by four years to give government departments and 100,000 public bodies more time to prepare for the new right of access.
Conservative frontbench MPs have submitted 130 requests for information under the FOI Act. So far they have received only three holding replies.
Yesterday, Julian Lewis, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said that, although the Ministry of Defence showed signs of genuine openness, he was discouraged by the amount of time being taken to respond to requests by other departments.
"They have gone right down to the wire taking the full 20 days to reply. I hope the reason they are leaving it to the last minute to answer this question is because they are putting together a lot of information to give to us," he said.
"I fear that the delay is just stalling for time before they give us little more than the casual evasive responses to written parliamentary questions."
Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said the Government was guilty of hypocrisy over its application of the Act.
"There is a real suspicion that the Government is using the FOI Act as a deft manoeuvre to imply openness while allowing the Sir Humphreys of this world arcane reasons for not answering questions," he said. "We have yet to see any evidence at all the Act will make any positive difference as far as the Government is concerned."
Yet all that didn't stop Labour from hailing the FOI Act a success, calling it the beginning of a new era of openness.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, said yesterday: "This is a new era in the relationship between the citizen and the state. After just one month, the Freedom of Information Act has already been seen to make a real impact."
He added: "We have sown the seeds of cultural change towards a government at all levels that is more open, transparent and accountable. But we must remember this is not a free-for-all. There will always be areas - such as national security - where it is necessary for information to be withheld to allow government to act effectively."
That has not been the experience of many members of the public who have spent the past few weeks engaged in a rather tiresome game of cat and mouse with Whitehall officials.
Downing Street has been targeted under the Act and inundated with requests about the role of Lord Birt, the Prime Minister's close adviser and "blue-skies thinker". Yesterday, one Whitehall source said some civil servants were struggling to deal with the number and complexity of requests.
There has also been signs of a discrepancy between the approach to the Act across Whitehall - government agencies were showing signs of being more open than central government.
Of 4,000 requests received across central government, about half have been made by people identifying themselves as reporters. But campaigning organisations and members of the public have also made wide use of the new powers.
The National Archives have received the most requests, more than 600, followed by the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Requests include applications for information about artwork loaned from national collections, as well as information about to Cabinet Ministers' offices and official residences.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs, one of the few departments able to disclose statistics, received about 144 requests for information in January, 76 of those within the first three days of the Act coming into force.
Of these early requests 55 have been answered, 19 are on target to be answered within the 20 working days. Two requests have had their deadline extended beyond 20 working days to allow consideration of where the public interest lies.
But Lord Falconer insisted yesterday that local authorities have released widespread information about a wide range of issues from pension schemes, car park contracts, repairs to council buildings - through to restaurant hygiene inspection reports and attacks on teachers in schools.Reuse content