Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No plans to use section 5 to designate new bodies

The following answer to a Lords PQ was given last week:

Freedom of Information Act 2000
Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to designate any bodies under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and [HL2319]

28 Nov 2005 : Column WA7

Whether bodies which are neither listed in Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 nor defined under Section 6 of that Act, but which carry out statutory functions delegated to them, should be subject to the information disclosure requirements of the Act. [HL2320]

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) applies to those bodies which are public authorities for purposes of the Act. The scope of the power in Section 5 of the Act enables the designation as a public authority of bodies that appear to the Secretary of State to be exercising functions of a public nature and those are providing, under contract with a public authority, services whose provision is a function of that authority.

We are currently building up evidence of how freedom of information has impacted on the bodies that meet in the existing criteria as specified in Sections 4 and 6 of the Act. We feel that it is important to gain such evidence before considering how Section 5 might be used. We have therefore not identified any bodies for designation under Section 5.

Parliamentary update

Some other FoI related PQs of note:

Commons: 17 Nov 2005 -HMS Sheffield
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for information relating to HMS Sheffield; when the requests were made; and on what date a decision was made on each request. [28356]

Mr. Ingram: Three requests for information (RFI) from different applicants have been made relating to HMS Sheffield under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. One RFI was made in January, and the other two in February. Full replies have been deferred pending the outcome of the departmental review that I commissioned in April 2005 to consider what information can be made available publicly concerning the investigation into the loss of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands conflict. My letter of 7 April (D/MSU/2/5/1) refers, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Lords: 8 Nov 2005 Roads Expenditure: Classification
Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they omitted some, but not all, of the names of officials involved in examining the classification of roads expenditure from the documents released by HM Treasury under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 19 October. [HL1943]

Lord McKenzie of Luton: We provided the names of the senior civil servants involved in examining the classification of roads expenditure on the basis that we would normally expect the names of staff at this level to be in the public domain. We decided it would not be in the public interest for the names of officials below this level to be made public.

Commons: 8 Nov 2005: Iraq
Peter Law: To ask the Solicitor-General what discussions his Department has had with the Information Commissioner since April in respect of outstanding applications for information on the policy formulation of the Attorney-General's opinion on the legality of military action against Iraq made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [25507]

The Solicitor-General: The Government do not comment on cases which are or may be under consideration by the Information Commissioner

Commons 8 Nov 2005: Freedom of Information
Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been submitted to the Central Clearing House in each month since the inception of that unit, broken down by public authority. [25051]

Ms Harman [holding answer 7 November 2005]: The Access to Information Central Clearing House received 3,006 referrals between 1 January and 31 October 2005.

I will write to my hon. Friend providing a full response to his question breaking down this volume of referrals both by month and department and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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