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Freedom of Information Act

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what total sum has been received by his Department for the provision of information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in its first year of operation. (48493)

The Freedom of Information Act allows for public authorities to determine when the cost of processing a request will exceed the appropriate limit, which for central Government is set at £600 and for the wider public sector £450. In this instance the public authority may decide to either approach the applicant to help them refine their request and where possible to bring it under the appropriate limit. Alternatively, public authorities may charge the applicant the cost of processing the request. There is, however, no obligation for departments to provide information if the cost of processing the request exceeds the appropriate limit. The total sum of monies received by the Northern Ireland Office in the first year of Freedom of Information, for a request that was over the fees limit, was £650.

Public authorities may also charge for disbursements when handling requests where it is deemed appropriate. The Northern Ireland Office has not charged for disbursements. Further information on the FOI fees regime can be found on the DC A web site at http://www.foi.gov.uk/practitioner/feesguidance.htm.