consulting interested parties

John Cross made this Freedom of Information request to House of Commons

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

On 28th August, Francis Irving requested an internal review of an FOI request entitled "Online petitions documents from PICT". You can see the full history of the request here.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/on...

On 24th October, Bob Castle, the FOI officer for the House of Commons, wrote:

"As previously noted the issues that you have asked us to review are complex and the need to consult interested parties and test options is taking longer than hoped"

Please could you send me all internal documents and email relating to the consideration, consultation and testing of options relating to the review of that FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email dated 10 February 2009 that we received on 11
February 2009.
We shall deal with your request promptly and provide you with response
by 11 March 2009.

If you have any queries about your request, please contact me.

Kind Regards

Katarina Ndrepepaj

Freedom of Information and Resources Coordinator

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your request which is copied below.

The information you have asked for is held by the House of Commons.
This consists of material relating to an internal review of a request
for information the response to which has not yet been provided. Your
request for this information is refused on the grounds that its
disclosure to you would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and
frank provision of advice, or the free and frank exchange of views for
the purposes of deliberation and therefore exempt from the requirement
to provide copies by virtue of the exemption described in section
36(2)(b)(i&ii) of the FOI Act (prejudice to the conduct of public
affairs). This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test
does not apply.

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request, ask the
House of Commons to conduct an internal review of this decision.
Requests for internal review should be addressed to: Freedom of
Information Officer, Department of resources, House of Commons, London
SW1A 0AA or [House of Commons request email]. Please ensure that you specify the
nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you wish to
make. If the decision to apply section 36 of the 2000 Act in respect of
your request is upheld by review, a certificate signed by the Speaker
may be issued. This certificate would provide conclusive evidence that
the exemption was required for the purpose described above.

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security
House of Commons

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Richard McMillan left an annotation ()

"...the response to which has not yet been provided."

Does this mean that a response to the original will be forthcoming?

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

I think you should demand the review so that the Speaker has to publicly associate himself with this.

John Cross left an annotation ()

Ganesh thank you for your advice. I expect to appeal in the next few days.

Dear Mr Castle,

You have declined to answer my Freedom of Information Act request citing 36(2)(b)(i&ii).

"Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, ..."

As you know a "qualified person" in relation to information held by the House of Commons, means the Speaker of the House.

Nobody can know what the Speaker's "reasonable opinion" on a request is without having been in contact with the Speaker in relation to that request. The Speaker cannot form a reasonable opinion about a request for information without having been informed of the details of that request.

Please can you therefore confirm that prior to your email of 10 March 2009:

(i) you were in contact with the Speaker in relation to his opinion of my request

(ii) the Speaker had been informed of the details of my request

(iii) the Speaker's opinion was that the release of the information would be prejudicial to the free and frank provision of advice/exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation

In your email you wrote:

"If the decision to apply section 36 of the 2000 Act in respect of your request is upheld by review, a certificate signed by the Speaker may be issued. This certificate would provide conclusive evidence that
the exemption was required for the purpose described above."

I will only accept such a certificate to be conclusive evidence if I received a certificate signed by the Speaker. I regret that I cannot accept a scan or a copy. I will send you my postal address in a separate email.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email dated 10 March 2009 and received on 11 March
2009, in which you request an internal review of the Freedom of
Information request, shown below.

Our internal target for dealing with reviews is thirty working days. We
will deal with this promptly and endeavour to provide a response by 24
April 2009.

Thank you also for providing your home address.

Mandy Kelly
Freedom of Information Assistant

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CASTLE, Bob, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross
I am sorry that we have not met our internal target for responding to
your request for a review. We will provide a response as soon as
possible.
Yours sincerely
Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security
House of Commons

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Dear Bob Castle,

Thank you for your email in which you wrote: "I am sorry that we have not met our internal target for responding to your request for a review. We will provide a response as soon as possible."

ICO Good Practice Note 5 states that:

"In view of all the above the Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the
request for review. There may be a small number of cases which involve exceptional circumstances where it may be reasonable to take longer. In those circumstances, the public authority should, as a matter of good practice, notify the requester and explain why more time is needed. In our view, in no case should the total time taken exceed 40 working days."

Please can you confirm that I will receive a full response to my request for an internal review before the end of the working week. If you cannot confirm that I will have to consider contacting the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

CASTLE, Bob, House of Commons

I am out of the office until 11 May. If you are submitting a FOI request please resend to [email address]
For advice on data protection, FOI or information security please call the IRIS team

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for your email in which you wrote: "I am sorry that we have not met our internal target for responding to your request for a review. We will provide a response as soon as possible."

ICO Good Practice Note 5 states that:

"In view of all the above the Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review. There may be a small number of cases which involve exceptional circumstances where it may be reasonable to take longer. In those circumstances, the
public authority should, as a matter of good practice, notify the requester and explain why more time is needed. In our view, in no case should the total time taken exceed 40 working days."

Please can you confirm that I will receive a full response to my request for an internal review before the end of the working week. If you cannot confirm that I will have to consider contacting the ICO.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/co...

I have sent a message to Bob Castle earlier today but I received an out of office reply so I am writing again.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

Dear Sir or Madam,

On 1 May 2009 the House of Commons wrote "We will provide a response as soon as possible."

Please can you now respond.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email below in relation to your requested internal
review. Owing to the pressure of current events, all staff are very
busy and it may take some time for us to be able to send you a response
on the internal review of your request. Please accept our apologies for
this delay, and our assurances that a response to your internal review
will be issued as soon as is practicable.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Dear Sirs
Please can you provide a date by which I will receive a response. I appreciate that current employees may be busy but it this responsibility of those who decide how many staff are employed to ensure enough staff are available to meet an authority's legal obligations.

I look forward to a full response.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

John Cross left an annotation ()

Might have to go to the ICO.

Mark left an annotation ()

What have the request handlers and managers been learning?
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/le...

Dear Sir or Madam,

In previous correspondence you wrote:

"Our internal target for dealing with reviews is thirty working days. We will deal with this promptly and endeavour to provide a response by 24 April 2009."

You have yet to respond. Your handling of my initial request has been unsatisfactory. Your handling of my review has been unsatisfactory.

Please can you provide a response in the next five working days. I have been very patient but I am prepared to appeal to the ICO if necessary.

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

Dear Sir or Madam,

When you failed to carry out an internal review with a reasonable time frame I sent you a reminder. I have sent several reminders since but no internal review has been carried out. This is the last reminder.

If you fail to set out an appropriate timetable for responding in full to my request for an internal view before 5:30 pm tomorrow (31 August 2009) I will appeal to the ICO. I have tried several times to avoid having to do this.

I am disappointed both with your handling of my request for information and the fact that you have not carried out an internal review in a reasonable time.

regards,

John

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

I think you meant 31st July.

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

F09-047

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email, which is copied below. I note your comments and
your frustration with the delay to our response to your request for an
internal review and can only apologise for this. We are unable to provide
a full response to your internal review today and will understand if you
consequently wish to contact the Commissioner with respect to our handling
of the review. However, please expect an email from me next week which
will update you on the status of our review.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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John Cross left an annotation ()

I did mean 31 July!

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

F09-047

Dear Mr Cross,

I am writing in respect of your request for an internal review of your
Freedom of Information request F09-047. Please accept our apologies for
the time it is taking to process this internal review.

The response to your request F09-047 stated that the information you
sought was exempt from disclosure under section 36 of the Freedom of
Information Act. In order for the application of this exemption to be
reviewed it is necessary to obtain the views of Mr Speaker. As you will
be aware, a new Speaker has recently been elected. It was unfortunately
not possible to consult with the new Speaker with respect to the
application of the section 36 exemption to your request before the start
of the summer recess. Arrangements have been made to take your request to
the Speaker as soon as possible after the summer recess and we expect to
be able to respond to you as soon as possible after that.

We accept that this new timing represents a significant delay from the
original date by which we had hoped to be able to respond to your internal
review. However, this has been necessitated by the need to consult with
the Speaker in order to conclude the internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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From: FOICOMMONS
Sent: 31 July 2009 13:19
To: '[FOI #7928 email]'
Subject: F09-047 internal review - consulting interested parties

F09-047

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email, which is copied below. I note your comments and
your frustration with the delay to our response to your request for an
internal review and can only apologise for this. We are unable to provide
a full response to your internal review today and will understand if you
consequently wish to contact the Commissioner with respect to our handling
of the review. However, please expect an email from me next week which
will update you on the status of our review.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Mark left an annotation ()

A request was made to determine what might explain the delays we are observing with this request. Records of enrollment in training/learning/development programs are in.
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/le...

Dear Sirs

In your previous email you wrote:

"As you will be aware, a new Speaker has recently been elected. It was unfortunately not possible to consult with the new Speaker with respect to the application of the section 36 exemption to your request before the start of the summer recess. Arrangements have been made to take your request to the Speaker as soon as possible after the summer recess and we expect
to be able to respond to you as soon as possible after that."

I do not accept this as a valid excuse for the House of Commons continuing failure to respond to my request for an internal review in a reasonable time period.

The office of Speaker is not vacant during a recess so if it is required by law that he is consulted then he can and must be consulted. Parliament when it passed the Freedom of Information Act 2000 could have legislated to give the Commons a special extension when the House was in recess, it chose not to do so.

Your failure to consult the speaker means that you cannot properly reply on the exemption you referred to in previous correspondence. Please therefore respond immediately and provide all information requested.

regards,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

F09-047

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email. We acknowledge that the time it is taking us to
handle the internal review of your request is unsatisfactory. We can only
apologise for the continuing delay, and assure you that we will respond as
soon as we have been able to consult with the Speaker.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Dear Sirs,

I am still waiting for the information I requested in February 2009. On 11 March 2009 you acknowledged receipt of my request for an internal review. This internal review has not yet finished.

On 6 May 2009 I reminded you that ICO Good Practice Note 5 states (in relation to internal reviews):

"In our view, in no case should the total time taken exceed 40 working days."

I was later told:

"Arrangements have been made to take your request
to the Speaker as soon as possible after the summer recess and we expect to be able to respond to you as soon as possible after that."

I hope that my review can now be completed.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Cross,

Thank you for your email. We apologise for the continuing delay. A response will be sent to you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Dear Sirs

Please could you update me as to the progress of my internal review.

It would appear to me that if the Speaker had felt it appropriate to issue a certificate in respect of this request he has had ample time to do so as it is more than 8 months since I made my initial request.

Is it possible that the Speaker shares my view that the information should be released?

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

John Cross left an annotation ()

as is clear from: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/se...

No s34 certificates have been issued in 2009 (s34 relates to the Parliamentary privilege exemption)

Dear House of Commons,

I wrote on 9 November to ask about my request. You have yet to respond to that email in which I asked if you could "update me as to the progress of my internal
review"

On 12 March 2009 you acknowledged receipt of my request for an internal review a review which has not yet been completed.

I refer you again to ICO Good Practice Note 5 which states that:

"In view of all the above the Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the
request for review. There may be a small number of cases which involve exceptional circumstances where it may be reasonable to take longer. In those circumstances, the public authority should,
as a matter of good practice, notify the requester and explain why more time is needed. In our view, in no case should the total time taken exceed 40 working days."

regards,

John Cross

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

2 Attachments

F09-047

Dear Mr Cross,
Please find attached response to your request for an internal review of your Freedom of Information request F09-047.

Yours sincerely,
Katy Gray
Freedom of Information and Data Protection Coordinator

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