Intranet contents

Ganesh Sittampalam 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 successful.

Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear House of Commons,

Please could I have a copy of the following pages from the Parliament intranet:

- The root page (i.e. the page at http://intranet.parliament.uk)
- Any site maps or similar pages providing a list or summary of the information available on the intranet (I don't expect you to search the entire site for these; just provide any you can find easily, for example by following a link from the root page)

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request for information received on 9 April 2010.

When Parliament has been dissolved there is no ‘House of Commons’ for
the purposes of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the 2000 Act, and there is
therefore no ‘public authority’ to which the 20 day deadline under
section 10 of the 2000 Act is capable of applying. The time limits do not,
therefore, apply during the period of Dissolution.

The effect of the 2000 Act, including its time limits, resumes when the
new House of Commons first meets.

As your request was received before the House dissolved, the 20 working
day time limit of your request will be split, ceasing on 12 April 2010 and
resuming on 18 May 2010 when the new Parliament first meets. We will
endeavour to respond to your request promptly but in any case on or before
15 June 2010.

If you have any queries about your request, please use the request number
quoted in the subject line of this email.

Yours sincerely

Louise Randall
Freedom of Information Assistant

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

I am writing to you regarding your request for information received on 9 April 2010.

When Parliament has been dissolved there is no ‘House of Commons’ for the purposes of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the 2000 Act, and there is therefore no ‘public authority’ to which the 20 day deadline under section 10 of the 2000 Act is capable of applying. The time limits do not, therefore, apply during the period of Dissolution.

The effect of the 2000 Act, including its time limits, resumes when the new House of Commons first meets.

As your request was received before the House dissolved, the time remaining on your request will resume on 18 May, being the day the new Parliament first meets. We will endeavour to respond on or before 15 June 2010.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear House of Commons,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of House of Commons's handling of my FOI request 'Intranet contents'.

You have failed to respond within the statutory 20 days. You claim that the effect of the act is in abeyance during a dissolution but there is no language in the act to justify this claim. Indeed, the act provides a very specific mechanism - s10(4) - for allowing certain authorities extra time for dealing with requests, yet this mechanism has not been activated for the House of Commons.

I have seen no evidence that your staff have not been working throughout the period of the dissolution. Even if the Commons really is technically legally incapable of responding during that period, then it could have responded before the dissolution actually occurred in order to comply with the time limit. Additionally, following the election it seems that the successful candidates are once more calling themselves "MPs", and if one accepts the view that the "House of Commons" listed in the act is an unincorporated association of MPs, then it would seem it came back into existence on 6th May and could have met the time limit at that point.

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

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your email dated 13 May 2010 requesting an internal review of Freedom of Information request ref: F10-230, which was received on 13 May 2010.

When Parliament was dissolved there was no ‘House of Commons’ for the purposes of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and there was therefore no ‘public authority’ to which the 20 day deadline under section 10 of the 2000 Act is capable of applying. The time limits did not, therefore, apply during the period of Dissolution.

The effect of the 2000 Act, including its time limits, resumes when the new House of Commons first meets.

As your request for an internal review was received during the dissolution period, the time limit commences on 18 May, being the day the new Parliament first meets. We will endeavour to respond within 20 working days, i.e. on or before 16 June 2010. However, it may be necessary to extend this deadline by another 20 working days, for example if the review is complicated and requires the assistance of multiple resources. If this is the case, and your review cannot be completed in the shorter timeframe, we will inform you of this.

If you have any queries, please use the number quoted in the subject line of this email.

Victoria Carpenter

FOI assistant

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

Thank you for your reply. You may wish to consider that if my complaint is upheld either by you or by the ICO, then your claim that the internal review time limit only started on the 18th will also be invalid.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

20 Attachments

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request for information which is copied below. The information you require - the root page (intranet.parliament.uk) and index pages - is attached.

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 SW1 OAA 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 you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request for an internal review which is copied below.

Please see our response attached.

Yours sincerely

Katarina Ndrepepaj
Freedom of Information Co-ordinator

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Steve Elibank left an annotation ()

If I were you, I'd make a request to ask whether or not the salaries of the House of Commons' FOI staff were stopped during the dissolution, and how many of them turned up for work each day!

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

I already effectively did that with my other request for contracts: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/st... (the answer is, obviously enough, no).

The idea that s10 of the FOI act mentions a "period" is simply wrong - it says "the 20th working day after".

Since I have another couple of requests that were delayed I'm tempted to request an internal reviews for one of them in order to argue the point further before I complain to the ICO.

Steve Elibank left an annotation ()

The other thing is that the Act defines a working day very, very specifically. Any day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or designated bank holiday.

I'd pursue this if I were you - good luck!

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

I'm definitely going to pursue it, just trying to decide whether to go straight to the ICO or have another round with the HoC via a separate review request.

James Bradshaw left an annotation ()

After making a big fuss about the dissolution issue here and on the MySociety blog, the applicant complained to the ICO. The ICO found in favour of the House, that Parliament, when dissolved, ceases to exist as a legal entity and the timetable for replying to FoI requests is suspended. Strangely, the applicant has not updated the information under this request and the blog has been closed to comments. Great commitment to openness, guys. How about giving the ICO's decision the same prominence on the site that you gave to your complaint a few months ago?

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

Sorry, I wasn't trying to hide it, just have been disorganised about annotating a few requests with complaints references/links. This one is http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...

The Commissioner agreed with the HoC's position. I disagree with the decision, not least because the HoC themselves had previously said "For example, the House assumes that Parliament did not intend that the public’s right to information from the House is suspended during periods when the House is dissolved even though, as mentioned above, the House of Commons does not exist during such periods." in a separate Information Tribunal case (EA/2006/0074,0075,0076 para 38 :http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...) - I pointed this case out to the ICO during the investigation, but they don't seem to have considered it.

I decided it wasn't worth appealing to the Tribunal given that only a few requests every several years are affected.

BTW I wasn't the one making the fuss on the MySociety blog - although I'm now part of the WhatDoTheyKnow administration team, I wasn't at the time I made this request and had no involvement with the blog post you refer to (http://www.mysociety.org/2010/04/13/parl...)

James Bradshaw left an annotation ()

Ganesh,

Thanks for the clarification and I'm sorry for confusing you with other people here pursuing the dissolution of Parliament issue. I would have left a comment on the blog if it hadn't been closed.

The legal position is that neither House exists as a legal entity from when it is dissolved until it is summoned to meet again. You dont need to take my word for it: any authoritative source constitutional law will confirm it. The House of Commons has explained it to you, and now so has the ICO.

What would it take, in principle, for you and your colleagues to accept that you got it wrong on this one, the House's initial position on which it had consulted the ICI in advance was correct and you've made a bit of a collective fool if yourselves (and wasted a small amount of taxpayers' money) in pursuing it? That's a serious question, not a rhetorical debating point.

James.

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

I've made a blog entry about this, since the WDTK moderation policy is to discourage political discussions:
http://www.comply-promptly.org.uk/blog/2...

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