DWP Central Freedom of
6-12 Tothill Street
Our Ref: FOI2020/71597
13 January 2021
Dear Claire Hall,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) request received on 18th November. You
“I am seeking information from the Department for Work and Pensions under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please provide any submission(s) made on behalf of the Department to the Independent
Review of Administrative Law in response to the panel's call for evidence which ran from
7 September to 26 October 2020.”
We can confirm that the Department holds the information you have requested but it is being
withheld from release under the exemption at Section 36(2)(c) of the FoI Act which states;
(2) Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in the reasonable
opinion of a qualified person [in this context, a Minister of the Crown], disclosure of the
information under this Act
(c) would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the
effective conduct of public affairs.
We consider that the submission is exempt from disclosure under section 36(2)(c) of the
FOIA, because in the reasonable opinion of the DWP’s qualified person, its release would
prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. The Panel should have an opportunity to
independently review and analyse all the evidence it has collected without interference. To
disclose the evidence, the Panel has collected before they have drafted or submitted their
Report to Government would adversely affect the Panel’s purpose and objectives, and further
would likely result in resource pressures which could cause delay to the wider process.
Following the Panel’s submission of its Report to Government, the Government will also
require time to initially review and consider the Report and the underlying evidence.
Section 36 is a qualified exemption which means that the decision to disclose the requested
material is subject to the public interest test. When assessing whether or not it was in the
public interest to disclose the information to you, we took into account the following factors:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
The issues under consideration by the IRAL Panel are of constitutional importance, and
the evidence on which the Panel’s Report is based will provide context to the Panel’s
conclusions. There is therefore legitimate public interest in that evidence being released.
Transparency is important to the Panel’s process. Release of the evidence would
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information:
The Panel has not yet reached any conclusions, and therefore the legitimate public
interest in the release of the underlying evidence is not particularly strong at this time.
The Panel must have a safe space in which to analyse and consider the evidence
collected (including the submissions), away from the public gaze and to reach its
conclusions. The damage that would likely be inflicted by premature release of evidence
collected would impact on the Panel’s deliberations and potentially their Report. It is not a
credible use of the panel or government’s time if they spend time and effort defending
and debating publicly options which are still being considered.
Premature release of evidence collected also has the potential to interfere and/or distract
the Panel’s process, by causing delay to the ultimate submission of their Report to
On balance, we are satisfied that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs
the public interest in disclosure
If you have, any queries about this letter please contact us quoting the reference number
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Department for Work and Pensions
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act
If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or by writing to: DWP Central FoI Team, Caxton
House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NA.
Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the
Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally, the Commissioner cannot make
a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Website: ICO Contact Information
or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745