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Freedom of Information

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what powers the Information Commission has to inspect the files, e-mails or records of a public authority when considering (a) Freedom of Information Act 2000 and (b) Data Protection Act 1998 appeals. (94621)

Section 51 of the Freedom of Information Act enables the Commissioner to obtain from a public authority, by issuing an information notice, information he reasonably requires to determine whether it is complying with the Act. This corresponds to the powers of the Commissioner under section 43 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Commissioner also has powers of entry and inspection under schedule 3 of the Freedom of Information Act, which sets out the circumstances in which, where he suspects a contravention of the Act, the Commissioner may seek a warrant from a court enabling him to enter and search premises and seize material. The Commissioner has comparable powers of entry and inspection under schedule 9 of the Data Protection Act 1998.