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Departmental Freedom of Information

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been made to his Department since 2005; how many such requests were (a) agreed to and (b) refused in each of those years; how many refusals were subject to appeal to the Information Commissioner in each of those years; how many appeals were successful; if he will place in the Library copies of the material subsequently provided in each case; how much was spent by his Department opposing each appeal; which (i) consultants and (ii) law firms were employed by his Department in connection with each appeal; and if he will make a statement. (245078)

The following table provides a breakdown of the number of requests under the Freedom of Information Act to the Department since 2005; requests agreed to and refused in each of those years; how many refusals were subject to appeal to the Information Commissioner in each year; and how many appeals were successful. A copy of the material provided in each successful appeal to the Information Commissioner has been placed in the Library.

Legal advice on Information Commissioner appeals is provided to the Department by Department of Health Legal Services, which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Legal Group. Department of Health Legal Services provides a full range of legal services to the Department of Health including arranging representation in court. The Department has not directly employed consultants or separate law firms in connection with any Information Commissioner appeals. Elements of the Department employ law firms during the course of their business and, as such, may contribute to the Department's handling of ICO appeals. The Department of Health's Connecting for Health and Commercial Directorate use separate lawyers. To extract the component regarding appeals can be achieved only at a disproportionate cost.

Table 1: Freedom of Information Act requests to the Department of Health from Quarter 1 2005 to Quarter 2 2008; requests agreed to and refused in each of those years; how many refusals subject to appeal to Information Commissioner in each year; how many appeals were successful; costs for Department of Health opposing each appeal

Total FOI requests

Agreed

Refused1 (table 3)

ICO appeals(table 7)

Successful appeals2

2005

1,203

4708

128

6

0

2006

1,411

4929

114

24

2

2007 (table 8)

1,286

4820

153

18

0

2008

3672

4201

46

5

5

Totals

4,231

2,658

441

48

2

1 Includes partially and fully withheld. 2 Includes upheld in full/upheld in part. 3 Quarters 1 and 2 only. 4 Includes granted in full/partially upheld. 5 To be published in the Ministry of Justice annual report expected in June 2009. Note: Data extracted from Annual and Quarterly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice (formerly Department for Constitutional Affairs).