Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report


Submitted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your letter of 9 June and I'm sorry to have missed your deadline. For 2 of the Questions we are reliant on information from the NMEC. I was waiting for it, but it is still not available, and I thought it sensible to provide you with a response to the other Questions.

I attach a table which explains the Department's position in respect of those non-Millennium Questions to the Committee's satisfaction, I hope.

19 July 2000

Subject:Television Licence Evasion (61889)
Comment:The BBC has statutory responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the television licensing system; TV Licensing carries out the day to day administration as agent for the BBC and it is contrary to TV Licensing's policy to publish details of areas to be targeted, since to do so would give comfort to evaders in other areas.
Although the Code of Practice on access to Government Information does not strictly cover the BBC (because the Corporation does not come within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman), non-disclosure would be justified under two sections of the Code, namely
Part II, section 4 (b) - "Information whose disclosure could prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law, including the prevention, investigation or detection of crime"; and
Part II, section 7 (b) - "Information whose disclosure would harm the efficient conduct of the operations of a department or other public body or authority".
Subject:Departmental Legislation (68415)
Comment:As stated in the original answer, by longstanding convention legislative proposals for each year are not announced in advance of the Queen's speech at the start of the relevant Parliamentary Session. At the time the question was answered, the Department had no collective agreement for further legislation arising from the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, and Ministers were still considering the options, legislative and other, for implementing review commitments, and many of the policy details which would need to be reflected in any legislation. To have made premature assumptions or statements about future legislation would have harmed the frankness and candour of internal discussions: the exemption in paragraph 2 of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information is relevant.
Subject:Heritage Export Licences (82194)
Comment:Our legal advice is clear that information given on applications for export licences is commercially sensitive and is given in confidence. In this context, the provision on "Third Party's Commercial Confidences" in paragraph 13 of Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information would apply. Furthermore to reveal information contained on applications for export licences would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Paragraph 12 of Part II of the Code is clearly of relevance to the "Privacy of an individual".

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