Amendments proposed to the Freedom of Information Bill, As Amended - continued House of Commons

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Mr Secretary Straw

79

Page     38,     line     37     [Clause     81],     leave out 'containing' and insert 'which contains (whether alone or with other provisions)'.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

80

Page     38,     line     38     [Clause     81],     after ' 3(1)', insert 'or (Exception from duty to comply with decision notice or enforcement notice)(4) or (6)'.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

81

Page     38,     line     38     [Clause     81],     leave out 'or 6(3) or (7)'.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

82

Page     38,     line     39     [Clause     81],     after 'Act', insert 'not specified in subsection (2)(b)'.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

83

Page     38,     line     40     [Clause     81],     at beginning insert 'and which is not subject to the requirement in subsection (2) that a draft of the instrument be laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament,'.


   

Mr Secretary Straw

84

Page     39,     line     1     [Clause     81],     after ' 4', insert 'or 6(7)'.

   

Mr Richard Shepherd
Dr Tony Wright
Mr Mark Fisher
Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath

97

Page     39,     line     23     [Clause     82],     leave out from beginning to 'or' in line 24.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

85

Page     39,     line     26     [Clause     82],     after first ' "information" ', insert '(subject to sections 51(8) and 74(2))'.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

86

Page     39     [Clause     82],     leave out lines 30 and 31.

   

Mr Secretary Straw

87

Page     39,     line     32     [Clause     82],     leave out from first 'Minister"' to end of line 35 and insert 'includes the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland'.


   

Mr Secretary Straw

88

Page     40,     line     2     [Clause     82],     at end insert—

      '"transferred matter", in relation to Northern Ireland, has the meaning given by section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998;'.


   

Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath
Dr Tony Wright
Mr Mark Fisher
Mr Richard Shepherd

40

Page     41,     line     3     [Clause     85],     leave out 'five' and insert 'three'.


NEW CLAUSES

Exception from duty to comply with decision notice or enforcement notice

   

Mr Secretary Straw

NC6

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—(1) A decision notice or enforcement notice which relates to a failure to comply with section 13 in relation to any one or more requests for information shall cease to have effect if, not later than the twentieth working day following the day on which the notice was given to the public authority, the accountable person in relation to that authority gives the Commissioner a certificate signed by him stating that he has on reasonable grounds formed the opinion that the authority did not fail to comply with section 13 in relation to that request or those requests.

    (2) Where the accountable person gives a certificate to the Commissioner under subsection (1) in relation to a decision notice, the accountable person shall, on doing so or as soon as reasonably practicable after doing so, inform the person who is the complainant for the purposes of section 50 of the reasons for his opinion.

    (3) The accountable person is not obliged to provide information under subsection (2) if, or to the extent that, compliance with that subsection would involve the disclosure of exempt information.

    (4) In this section "the accountable person"—

      (a) in relation to a government department, means any Minister of the Crown,

      (b) in relation to a Northern Ireland department, means the Northern Ireland Minister in charge of that department,

      (c) in relation to the House of Commons or the National Audit Office, means the Speaker of that House,

      (d) in relation to the House of Lords, means the Clerk of the Parliaments,

      (e) in relation to the Northern Ireland Assembly or the Northern Ireland Audit Office, means the Presiding Officer of that Assembly,

      (f) in relation to the National Assembly for Wales or an Assembly subsidiary as defined by section 99(4) of the Government of Wales Act 1998, means the Assembly First Secretary,

      (g) in relation to the Greater London Authority or a functional body within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999, means the Mayor of London,

      (h) in relation to a local authority or, in Northern Ireland, a district council within the meaning of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, means a member, committee or sub-committee of that local authority or district council designated by the Secretary of State by order,

      (i) in relation to any public authority not falling within paragraph (b), (e) or (h) whose functions are exercisable wholly or mainly in or as regards Northern Ireland and relate wholly or mainly to transferred matters, means the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland acting jointly, or any Northern Ireland Minister nominated in relation to that public authority by those Ministers so acting,

      (j) in relation to any public authority specified in Part II of Schedule 1 which is not a local authority but whose members include members of local authorities, means—

          (i) a committee or sub-committee of the public authority designated by the Secretary of State by order, or

          (ii) a member of a local authority who is also a member of that public authority and is designated by the Secretary of State by order, and

      (k) in relation to any other public authority, means a Minister of the Crown designated by the Secretary of State by order.

    (5) An order under subsection (4)—

      (a) may designate specified persons or persons falling within a specified description,

      (b) may designate different persons in relation to the same authority in relation to different cases, and

      (c) may make any designation subject to conditions.

    (6) The Secretary of State may by order provide for the exercise of the functions conferred by subsection (1) on the accountable person (whether designated by subsection (4) or by an order under that subsection) in the event of any vacancy in the office held by the accountable person or in the event of the illness or absence of the accountable person.

    (7) In this section—

    "local authority" means—

      (a) a local authority within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972,

      (b) the Common Council of the City of London, or

      (c) the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

    "working day" has the same meaning as in section 9.'.


Purposes

   

Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath
Dr Tony Wright
Mr Mark Fisher
Mr Richard Shepherd

NC1

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—(1) The purposes of this Act are to extend progressively the right of the public to information held by public authorities to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the need to protect interests specified in exemptions, so as to promote—

      (a) the accountability of public authorities;

      (b) informed public debate on public affairs;

      (c) public participation in the making of decisions; and

      (d) public understanding of the powers, duties and operation of public authorities.

    (2) This Act shall be interpreted so as to further the purposes specified in subsection (1) and to encourage the disclosure of information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost.'.


Official secrets

   

Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath
Mr Richard Shepherd

NC2

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—After section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1989 there shall be inserted—

    "(1A).—(1) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this Act to prove that the disclosure or retention of the information or article was in the public interest in that he had reasonable cause to believe that it indicated the existence of crime, fraud, abuse of authority, neglect in the performance of official duty or other misconduct.

    (2) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under this Act to prove that the disclosure of the information or other article for which he has been charged was in the public interest, having regard both to any damage actually caused by the disclosure and any benefit to the public interest from it; or that he had reasonable cause to believe at the time of the disclosure that it was so in the public interest.

    (3) In the case of a Crown servant or government contractor charged with an offence under sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 8 of this Act subsections (1) or (2) above shall only apply if he has taken reasonable steps to comply with any established procedures for drawing such misconduct to the attention of the appropriate authorities without effect.".'.


Duty to assist

   

Mr Mark Fisher
Dr Tony Wright
Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath
Mr Richard Shepherd

NC3

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—(1) A public authority shall take all reasonable steps to assist any person in seeking to exercise any right under this Act.

    (2) For the purpose of subsection (1) a public authority shall have regard to any relevant guidance contained in the code of practice issued under section 44.'.


Duty to give reasons

   

Dr Tony Wright
Mr Mark Fisher
Mr Robert Maclennan
Mr David Heath
Mr Richard Shepherd

NC4

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—(1) A public authority to which this section applies shall, within 20 working days of making any decision or recommendation which materially affects any person, give to that person a written statement setting out—

      (a) the reasons for its decision or recommendation, and

      (b) any material findings on which its decision or recommendation was based.

    (2) A public authority is not required by subsection (1) to disclose any exempt information unless the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in maintaining the exemption.

    (3) The public authorities to which this section applies are—

      (a) any public authority in respect of which an investigation may be made by:

          (i) the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, the Scottish Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the Welsh Administration Ombudsman;

          (ii) the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (or the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Northern Ireland); or

          (iii) the Health Service Commissioner for England, the Health Service Commissioner for Scotland, or, in respect of health service bodies in Northern Ireland, the Commissioner for Complaints; and

      (b) any other public authority which has been notified in writing by the Information Commissioner that it is subject to the provisions of this section.'.

 
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Prepared 30 Mar 2000