Digital Economy Bill: Human Rights Assessment 2016-17

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,

With reference to the Digital Economy Bill of this parliament, please can you provide a copy of the assessment or other review leading to the statement:

"Secretary John Whittingdale has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998:
In my view the provisions of the Digital Economy Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."

Reference: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/p...

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Jen Persson

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Ms Persson,

Thank you for your information request of 11 April 2017.

You asked:

“With reference to the Digital Economy Bill of this parliament, please can
you provide a copy of the assessment or other review leading to the
statement:

"Secretary John Whittingdale has made the following statement under
section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998:

In my view the provisions of the Digital Economy Bill are compatible with
the Convention rights."

Reference:
[1]https://www.publications.parliament.uk/p...

Thank you for your time and consideration.”

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). I can confirm that the Department does hold information in
scope of your request.

I can advise that the information you have requested is exempt from
disclosure under section 21 (information available by other means) of the
Act.  This is because this information has been published on the
[2]parliament.uk website at the following
link: [3]https://www.publications.parliament.uk/p...

Please see pages 59-60 where the human rights assessment is provided.

 

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

 

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

 

[4]www.gov.uk/dcms

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to:  [5][email address]

You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to
investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is
likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted
before beginning an investigation.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.publications.parliament.uk/p...
2. http://parliament.uk/
3. https://www.publications.parliament.uk/p...
4. http://www.gov.uk/dcms
5. mailto:[email address]

Dear FOI Mailbox,
please can you confirm that you do not hold any assessment, that led to this statement linked to, or whether your witholding using article 21 is withholding more than is published?

The FOI request is to provide a copy of the assessment or other review leading to the statement. What you provide, and I appreciate, is a link to the statement, but not any assessment that was done in preparation to deliver it.

396: "but is compatible with the rights set out in these Articles."

I would like to see the documented assessment that led to the statement.

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,

Jen Persson

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Thank you for your email which is now being dealt with by the Freedom of
Information Team at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 
You will receive a response to your information request within 20 working
days of receipt.
  

FOI Mailbox, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Dear Ms Persson,

Thank you for your information request of 3 May 2017 which follows on from
your previous request, CMS 301791.

You asked:

“Dear FOI Mailbox, please can you confirm that you do not hold any
assessment, that led to this statement linked to, or whether your
witholding using article 21 is withholding more than is published?

The FOI request is to provide a copy of the assessment or other review
leading to the statement. What you provide, and I appreciate, is a link to
the statement, but not any assessment that was done in preparation to
deliver it.

396: "but is compatible with the rights set out in these Articles." I
would like to see the documented assessment that led to the statement.”

I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act). I can confirm that the Department does hold information in
scope of your request.

The published explanatory notes you have been referred to contain not just
the statement of compatibility with the ECHR made by the then Secretary of
State but also an assessment of all measures in the Bill that in the view
of the Department engage convention rights. As part of the standard Bill
process pre-introduction to Parliament, full consideration was given to
the legal issues the Bill presents. The published assessment is a summary
of more detailed legal advice prepared for ministers. This legal advice is
exempt information under section 42 (legal professional privilege) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This is a qualified exemption and we have considered the public interest
in withholding the information or in disclosing it.  The arguments for and
against disclosure are detailed below.

In favour of releasing the information we consider there is a public
interest in public authorities being accountable for the quality of their
decision making and ensuring that decisions have been made on a sound
evidential basis and with good quality legal advice is part of that
accountability.

In favour of withholding the information we have considered the strong
public interest in recognising and upholding the importance of the
principle behind legal professional privilege: safeguarding openness in
all communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to full and
frank legal advice, which in turn is fundamental to the administration of
justice.  The courts have recognised that the inherent public interest in
maintaining legal professional privilege is high.

In this case, we consider that the public interest in withholding the
information is high.  Whilst there is an undoubted public interest in
government accountability for advice and decisions, and understanding the
place of legal advice, it is also in the public interest that decisions
taken by government are taken in a fully informed legal context.  Legal
advice to government must be given with a full appreciation of the facts,
and allowing exploration between legal advisers and policy officials as to
the possible arguments both for and against a particular view, weighing up
their relative merits.  Without such full, comprehensive and dynamic
advice, the quality of the government’s decision making would be much
reduced, because decision makers would not be fully informed of the legal
context of the decision.

We therefore consider that the public interest in disclosure does not
outweigh the strong public interest in withholding documents which are the
subject of legal professional privilege. 

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

 

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

4th floor, 100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

 

[1]www.gov.uk/dcms

 

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to:  [2][email address]

You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to
investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is
likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted
before beginning an investigation.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/dcms
2. mailto:[email address]

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