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House of Commons Hansard
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Departmental Disclosure of Information
11 November 2009
Volume 499
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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which requests for information received by his Department under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in 2008 were (a) classified as not resolvable and (b) refused in full; [286135]

(2) in respect of which requests for information received by his Department in 2008 under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it has received permission to extend the deadline for a response by more than 40 days; and what the reason for the request for an extension was in each case.

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In 2008 the Ministry of Defence received some 2,631 requests for information centrally, under the Freedom of Information Act.

As of 30 January 2009, 258 cases were closed in which the information requested was withheld in full. A further 315 cases were closed and classed as not resolvable.

As at the same date, 49 cases required more than 40 days on top of the statutory 20 working day period and have now been closed. As of 30 January 2009, a further 69 cases remained open in which the statutory 20 working day period and a further 40 working days had passed.

The exact text of each of the 791 requests in the categories listed above, and the detailed reasons for each extension, could be provided at only disproportionate cost. However, I will write to the hon. Member to provide a short summary of each request for information received in 2008 that was classified as ‘not resolvable’ or ‘withheld in full’, and list any exemptions that applied. I will also set out simplified reasons for those that have required more than 40 working days on top of the statutory 20-working day period.

Substantive answer from Mr. Kevan Jones to Dan Rogerson:

I promised to write to you to provide more information in response to the written answer I gave you on 20 July, (Official Report, column 882W). I apologise for the time it has taken to reply to you.

Firstly, I must make a correction to the information provided in the answer to the Parliamentary Questions. My reply included the following statement:

“As of 30 January 2009, 258 cases were closed in which the information requested was withheld in full. A further 315 cases were closed and classed as not resolvable. As at the same date, 49 cases required more than 40 days on top of the statutory 20 working day period and have now been closed. As of 30 January 2009, a further 69 cases remained open in which the statutory 20 working day period and a further 40 working days had passed.

The exact text of each of the 791 requests in the categories listed above, and the detailed reasons for each extension, could only be provided at disproportionate cost.”

The total of 791 requests given in the answer is incorrect. The total number of cases in the categories listed is 691. This was a typographical error, for which I apologise.

In my response to the question, I promised to provide you with a short summary of each request for information received in 2008 that was classified as not resolvable or withheld in full, and list any exemptions that applied. I will place in the Library of the House a spreadsheet showing a brief summary of the 573 requests, but it has proved impossible to list the exemptions that applied or provide a more detailed summary for all these cases as this could only be provided at disproportionate cost. This is because each record has to be individually retrieved from our management system and the information extracted. However, it has proved possible to provide the full information for 202 cases within the cost limit and this information is given within the spreadsheet.

I also agreed to set out simplified reasons for those that have required more than 40 working days on top of the statutory 20 working day period. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to identify reasons for each individual case. There are many reasons why a response might be delayed. These include, for example, difficulties identifying the appropriate part of the Department to respond, difficulties identifying the relevant information, complex discussions about whether information can be released, resource constraints and consultation of third parties including other Government Departments, commercial partners and foreign governments.