Thursday, September 17, 2009

Releasing ministerial letter on NHS contract will not limit free and frank discussions

ICO press release
17 September 2009

The Information Commissioner has ordered the Department of Health to release a letter from a former Treasury minister concerning the NHS consultant contract. The Department of Health received a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the business case on the consultants’ contract which it provided to HM Treasury in 2002. The requester also asked for a copy of HM Treasury’s response.


The Information Commissioner agrees that the exemption applies. Nonetheless, the letter from a Treasury minister, which contains the response to the business case, must be released on public interest grounds. The Information Commissioner is not persuaded by the view that disclosure would affect the frankness and candour with which ministers would debate policy issues in the future. The Decision Notice also highlights that this contract is no longer a ‘live’ issue, but that there has been significant public interest in whether the contract has delivered value for money.

Full ICO press release here.

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