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Departmental Freedom of Information

Volume 476: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of Freedom of Information requests received by her Department has given rise to responses that have been published by her Department in each year since 2000. (200485)

Since the right of access provided by the Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1 January 2005 the Home Office has received 8,167 requests (to April 2008). As of 21 April 2008 1,019 (12.5 per cent.) of the responses to these have appeared on the Department’s disclosure log. This figure includes requests received by the National Offender Management Service and Office for Criminal Justice Reform until 9 May 2007 when they ceased to be part of the Home Office upon the creation of the Ministry of Justice. Since the autumn of 2005 the Home Office disclosure log has been maintained on the basis of there being a presumption in favour of publication where information is released. Unfortunately it is not possible to provide an annual breakdown for the publication of FOI responses within the cost limit for PQs.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department 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. (201718)

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/freedomofinformationquarterly.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 “non-routine” 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 the proportion of resolvable requests the Department answered “in time” (i.e. meeting the deadline or with a permitted extension) in 2007 was 87 per cent.

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, the number of such requests was 333, 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 dealt with as routine business.