Our Reference: FOI 1972
By email: mailto:[FOI #376019 email]
Date: 23 December 2016
Dear Mr Jefferson FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
Further to my letter/email of 9 December 2016 acknowledging your request for
information which was received by us on 8 December, I am now in a position to
You requested the following:
Your department is listed in schedule 4 'RELEVANT PUBLIC
AUTHORITIES AND DESIGNATED SENIOR OFFICERS ETC' of the
Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (linked to here
http://freepdfhosting.com/64c5f91342.pdf - please provide a file format
you can read if you cannot read this).
Please kindly provide information held on file (if any) which explains why
your department needs access to the data gathered in the Investigatory
Powers Act 2016
I am handling your request under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
I can confirm that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) holds information falling within
the terms of your request.
The information that you have requested is being withheld in full under section 35
(1)(a) of the Act. Further details about our use of this exemption have been provided
Section 35 (1)(a) states:
42. (1) Information held by a government department or by the Welsh Assembly
Government is exempt information if it relates to -
(a) the formulation or development of government policy
Section 35 is a qualified exemption and as required by the Act, we have undertaken
a public interest test.
London WC2B 6NH
T: 020 7276 8000
E: [Food Standards Agency request email]
In this case we have recognised the general public interest in openness, and also the
public interest in understanding how government devises policy. However, it is also
recognised that good government requires a ‘safe space’ in order for officials to
extend full and proper consideration to the formulation and development of policy.
This safe space allows for a considered assessment of the respective merits or de-
merits of different courses of action, which is vital to the foundation and delivery of
effective policy. Without the protection afforded by the safe space the policy
development process would be markedly more difficult.
Furthermore disclosure would be likely to discourage government officials from
engaging in such candid and open debate in the future. It is important that officials,
when discussing developing areas of government policy, can feel unconstrained in
putting forward their views without inhibition.
Overall, we consider that the balance of the public interest, with regards to the
information requested firmly falls in favour of non-disclosure.
However, you may find it useful to refer to the operational case for the use of
communications data by public authorities, which was published to support the
passage of the Investigatory Powers Act: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/investigatory-powers-bill-overarching-
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me on the details provided in
the footer of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in
any future communications.
If you are not satisfied with the way the FSA has handled your request for
information, you should write within two calendar months of the date of this letter to
the Openness Team, and ask for an internal review. They will arrange for the
Complaints Coordinator to conduct the review. Their address is Food Standards
Agency, Room 2C Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NH (email: [email address]).
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you may apply directly
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a
decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the FSA.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s
Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF or through the
website at: www.ico.gov.uk.
Incidents and Resilience Unit