Dear Department for Transport,

Please provide all details, documents and correspondence HS2 Ltd have relating to all opinion polls conducted or commissioned since May 2013 on the behalf of HS2 Ltd or the DfT relating to HS2.

Yours faithfully,

Joe Rukin

Department for Transport

Dear Joe Rukin,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request for information which
has been allocated reference number P0012243.

A response will be issued to you in due course.

Regards,

Ivan Pocock
Department for Transport
FOI Advice Team
Information & Security Division
Zone D/04
Ashdown House
Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards on Sea
East Sussex
TN37 7GA

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highspeedrail, Department for Transport

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Please see attached progress update regarding your recent Freedom of
Information request F0012243 sent to the Department on 1st April 2015.

 

Do let me know if you have any questions.

 

Kind Regards,

 

[1][IMG]          Miss Meera Nayyar BSc, MSc, MBPsS
Policy Communications Manager, Communications and
Engagement

3/13 GMH, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR

020 7944 3494       
[2]Follow us on twitter @transportgovuk 

 

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Dear Miss Nayyar,

Thank you for your reply to my request of 1st April 2015.

However, I find the response from the Department to be exceptionally disappointing.

Under the provisions of the FOI Act, the Department has had the 20 days required to make a decision concerning exemptions under Section 35, as such I do not accept there is any case for you to need more time to make such a decision.

Furthermore, this is completely inconsistent with precedent which was set by FOI 13 616, submitted by Mr Andrew Green to HS2 Ltd on 19th April 2013, and fulfilled just over the 20 working day timeline on 22nd May 2013.

Full correspondence can be found at:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

In this case, the request was fulfilled in a reasonably timely manner, with the organisation clearly deciding that there was no case to apply an exemption under Section 35. My request is inherently the same as Mr Greens, in that it is a request for the same information, the difference being that it is more recent information. It is because of the existence of FOI 13 616 that my request asks for information on opinion polls conducted after May 2013, as the information on polling conducted before that date is already in the public domain. Effectively, my request is for an update of FOI 13 616.

I feel that a precedent for release has been set, and in requesting an additional 20 days, the Department is employing unwarranted obfuscation. As such, I require that the information is released immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Rukin

highspeedrail, Department for Transport

Thank you for your e-mail about high speed rail.  The Department’s target
is to answer correspondence in 20 working days. Information on HS2 is
available online at:
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/d....

On 9 April 2014, the Government announced an improved package for property
owners affected by Phase One of HS2. Some elements of the package came
into effect from the date of the announcement and others will follow a
further public consultation that began on 8 July and will close on 30
September 2014. The consultation can be accessed online at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/consultati...

 

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Dear Miss Nayyar,

In the observations made earlier I noted that there is clear precedent of no previous claim of engagement of any FOIA exemption or public interest conflict in respect of previous opinion poll information relating to HS2, FOI 13 616.

There are additional arguments that require your immediate deliberation.

Under FOIA, an extension to the period for deliberation can only be applied if a qualified exemption is engaged. Even under its own terms, Section 35(1)(a) cannot be engaged in this case. It is clear that the information requested does not relate to the ongoing formulation or development of government policy. Whilst some of the data may have done in the past, that policy is now formulated and developed. It is established policy. It is being implemented, with the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill having passed second reading in the House of Commons and currently at Committee Stage, and with the HS2 Preparation Act having received Royal Assent. The information requested provides a measure of the public popularity, or otherwise, of that formulated and developed policy. As such, the qualified exemption is not engaged and you do not need to consider the public interest further. You cannot delay publishing the requested information.

Further, the opinion polling results constitute statistical information in respect of a policy decision that has been taken. As such FOIA section 35(2) precludes the engagement of FOIA Section 35(1).

Further, for reasons that have been set out on several occasions to both DfT and HS2 Ltd by the Information Commissioner, this request falls under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations. As such, again, FOIA section 35(1)(a) cannot be engaged. Nor can any exemption under EIR section 12 be engaged.

Even if you did endeavour to claim the engagement of an EIR section 12 exemption, prevarication to consider the public interest arguments would be unlawful. Under EIR section 7 an extension of time beyond the maximum 20 day period for deliberation is only permitted where the information requested is of a complexity and volume such that that it is impractical to comply with the request within the earlier period or to make a decision to refuse to do so. Any claim that this requested information has BOTH complexity AND volume would require substantiation.

And underpinning all of the above, it is clear that there is an overwhelming and unarguable public interest in publishing the public opinion information that is held with regard to HS2.

This opinion polling has been accessible and known to the political parties of the last government. To withhold this publicly funded information from the public, and thus the other political parties, at this time, would represent a substantial departure from the tradition of party political neutrality by the civil service.

Against that background, I am appealing your decision to engage FOIA exemption 35(1)(a) at this juncture and I reject the grounds for your decision to prevaricate in withholding this information.

By prevaricating, you are circumventing the spirit and letter of the Environmental Information Regulations. This delay will have the same effect, at this critical electoral period, as an unlawful withholding, even if the information is to be published after the election. Publication delayed is, effectively, publication denied.

On that basis, though recognising that a formal response to my appeal is not yet received, it is my intention to copy this letter directly to the Information Commissioner. I will be seeking that his office provide you with urgent interim guidance in the hope that his under resourced office will then not be faced with the later burden of having to process a full blown avoidable complaint.

Yours sincerely,
Joe Rukin

highspeedrail, Department for Transport

Thank you for your e-mail about high speed rail.  The Department’s target
is to answer correspondence in 20 working days. Information on HS2 is
available online at:
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/d....

On 9 April 2014, the Government announced an improved package for property
owners affected by Phase One of HS2. Some elements of the package came
into effect from the date of the announcement and others will follow a
further public consultation that began on 8 July and will close on 30
September 2014. The consultation can be accessed online at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/consultati...

 

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highspeedrail, Department for Transport

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Please see attached a letter regarding the progress of your recent Freedom
of Information request, F0012243, which you sent to the Department for
Transport on 1^st April 2015.

 

Do let me know if you have any questions.

 

Kind Regards,

 

[1][IMG]          Miss Meera Nayyar BSc, MSc, MBPsS
Policy Communications Manager, Communications and
Engagement

3/13 GMH, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR

020 7944 3494       
[2]Follow us on twitter @transportgovuk 

 

show quoted sections

highspeedrail, Department for Transport

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request, F0012243,
submitted to the Department for Transport on the 1^st April 2015.

 

Please see attached a final letter of response to your request.

 

Do let me know if you have any questions.

 

Kind Regards,

 

[1][IMG]          Miss Meera Nayyar BSc, MSc, MBPsS
Policy Communications Manager, Communications and
Engagement

3/13 GMH, Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR

020 7944 3494       
[2]Follow us on twitter @transportgovuk 

 

show quoted sections

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