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Departmental Freedom of Information

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many freedom of information requests made to her Department were (a) answered (i) within 20 days, (ii) within 40 days, (iii) within 60 days, (iv) after 60 days, (b) not answered and (c) answered citing an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as a reason not to provide the requested information in each year since the Act came into force. (201720)

The Ministry of Justice has published two annual reports containing statistical information on freedom of information requests received by monitored bodies (including central Government Departments) in 2005 and 2006. These reports can be found at the following address:

http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/reference/statisticsAndReports.htm

The 2007 annual report is currently being drafted for publication in June 2008. However, statistics on requests received in each quarter of 2007 have been published and can be found via the MOJ website:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/freedomof informationquarterly.htm

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires public bodies to respond to written requests within 20 working days of receipt, but allows additional time for the consideration of the public interest in disclosing the requested information.

The published reports provide statistics on the number of requests for information other than routine or “normal course of business” requests received during each period where: an initial response was provided within 20 working days; an initial response was given outside this time but a public interest test extension had been applied; an initial response was given outside this time and no public interest test extension was applied, and where no initial response had been given at the time the statistics were collected.

The 2006 annual report provides statistics on the duration of the public interest test extensions in that year. Corresponding statistics for 2007 will be available when the 2007 annual report is published.

Information requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested; however Communities and Local Government answered 88 per cent. of resolvable requests “in time” (i.e. meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007.

For 2005 and 2006, the reports show the number of requests received by the Department which were withheld, either in full or in part, where an FOI exemption or EIR exception was applied. For 2007, there were 103 such requests, based on aggregated quarterly statistics from 2007. Requests withheld solely under the exemption applicable to “information available by other means” are not included; statistics on these are not collected centrally because they are treated in the statistics as routine business.