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Freedom of Information

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

20. To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the evidential basis was for the statement in the guidance issued by the House authorities on freedom of information that a “public authority may be required to release a copy of Members' correspondence if it receives a relevant request”. (140283)

Following requests for advice from Members about their constituency correspondence held by public authorities including health trusts, House officials issued guidance in December 2005. The guidance was based on the requirements placed on public authorities by the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Unless an exemption applies the public authority must respond to requests for information by confirming or denying it holds relevant material and, where held, providing a copy.

In practice an exemption (e.g. for personal or confidential information) may apply to the whole or part of such correspondence. The public authority is required to take a view on each case.