FOI in Parliament 27 Feb-2 March 2006

Highlights – The National Archives has received 171 requests for access to information contained in the 1911 census returns, and 14 appeals from inquirers who have been denied access to this information.

27 February 2006
Written Answers – Trade & Industry
Peter Law (Blaenau Gwent, Ind): If the Minister for Trade and Industry will list the freedom of information requests made since 1 January 2005 concerning information on (a) energy policy, (b) renewable energy and (c) nuclear energy; and whether the request was (i) fully complied with, (ii) partially answered and (iii) refused in each case.
Alan Johnson (Secretary of State, DTI): Since 1 January 2005, the Department has received in total 88 energy related Freedom of Information Act requests. In broad terms: (a) 18 related to energy policy; (b) 22 renewable energy and (c) 48 nuclear energy. Some requests were a combination of these categories. Of these requests, 39 were released in full; 12 were partial release of information and 23 information was withheld. There are two requests that are still being processed and in the case of a further 12 requests no information was found. A full list of the document will be placed in the Libraries of the House. (NB – the Libraries of the House are not accessible to the general public! These documents should be placed on the DTI’s disclosure log online.)

Written Answers – DTI
As if reading my mind Peter Law asks: What criteria are used to judge whether information released to applicants in response to freedom of information (FOI) requests is of wider public interest and should be included on the FOI pages of his Department’s website.
Alan Johnson: Information released to applicants under the Freedom of Information Act is considered for publication on the DTI’s web pages on a case-by-case basis as to whether it would be of wider public interest. My Department aims progressively to increase the amount of information it publishes from FOI requests on its website.
This publication is not a requirement of the FOI Act, but is in the spirit of freedom of information, and consistent with Whitehall best practice guidelines on publishing FOI responses that are likely to be of broad interest. (No surprise that the DTI has decided these FOI disclosure are not in the public interest and thus only available in the House library)

Written Answers – Constitutional Affairs
Peter Law (Blaenau Gwent, Ind): Which Government Department holds the collection of written submissions made to the inquiry held by Sir Richard Scott into military equipment exports to Iraq; and whether this information is publicly accessible on request.
Harriet Harman: The published Scott report is held at The National Archives. Further, additional material is held at the Cabinet Office, and requests to view this material can be made through a freedom of information inquiry.

Written Answers – 1911 Census
James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire, Con):To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many individuals have made representations (a) in favour of and (b) against the publication of any information under the 1911 census.
Harriet Harman: Since the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in January 2005, The National Archives has received 171 requests for access to information contained in the 1911 census returns, and 14 appeals from inquirers who have been denied access to information contained in the 1911 census returns. The National Archives has not recently received any representations from members of the public against release of information in the 1911 census. (Note – So precisely what is the reason for continuing to keep this information secret?)

Written Answers – Census and Bird’s Custard case
Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South, LDem): To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs why there has been a delay in the publication of advice on (a) the 100 year census closure policy and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and (b) the Bird’s Custard case; and if she will make a statement.
Harriet Harman: The information is as follows. (a) The reasons for the Government’s policy to release decennial census returns after a period of 100 years were set out in full by the hon. member for Tottenham in an adjournment debate on 29 March 2004, Official Report, columns 1394-1402. Members of the public who request access to the 1911 census returns at the National Archives are given an explanation of this policy and, if appropriate, are advised of their rights of appeal under the Freedom of Information Act. (b) Since January 2005 the National Archives has denied five requests to access information contained in the 1911 census relating to Tudor Grange, Blossomfield Road, Solihull, and to Sir Alfred Bird and his family.

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