Opinion Polls

Joe Rukin made this Freedom of Information request to High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

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 refused by High Speed Two (HS2) Limited.

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

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

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

RE: FOI15-1299

 

Thank you for your request, which has been considered under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

We believe that the following exemption is likely to apply to the
information which you have requested: S36 Prejudice to the effective
conduct of Public Affairs.

 

This exemption is subject to a public interest test and we have not yet
been able to conclude our consideration of the relevant issues to be able
to make a decision on the public interest. Accordingly, we will need more
time to conclude this analysis and to come to a decision (for which
extension of time is permitted by the relevant legislation). We will deal
with this as quickly as we reasonably can, but will need a further 20
working days to do so and will be in touch with our decision on or before
2 June 2015.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request or with the
decisions made in relation to your request, you may complain in writing to
HS2 Ltd at the address provided in the signature of this email. Please
also see attached details of HS2 Ltd’s complaints procedure and your right
to complain to the Information Commissioner.

 

Please remember to quote reference number FOI15-1299  in any future
communication relating to this request.

 

Kind regards,

 

M. Aylwin

 

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[1]cid:image003.png@01CFC5D9.F18564E0M. Aylwin | Freedom of Information
Team | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, 19th Floor, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf,
London E14 5AB | [5]www.gov.uk/HS2

 

 

 

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Dear Mr. Aylwin

Thank you for your reply to my request of 1st April 2015. 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, FOIA Section 36 cannot be engaged. Nor can any exemption under EIR section 12 be engaged.

Even if you did attempt 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.

Should you continue to claim that the EIRs are not engaged, even under FOIA, an extension to the period for deliberation on the public interest can only be applied if a qualified exemption is first engaged. A statement that you “believe” the exemption “is likely to apply” is insufficient.

You have provided no substantiation for the claim that FOIA section 36 is engaged. You have not identified the “qualified person” (as defined in the section) whose opinion is required for that section to be engaged. You have not provided that opinion. You have not even indicated which subsection of FOIA section 36 is claimed to be engaged within that opinion.

I recommend your immediate attention to guidance to public authorities from the Office of the Information Commissioner at these links. https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

But underpinning all of the above, under either regulatory regime, 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 information 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.

Furthermore, withholding this information 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.

In that case, the request was fulfilled in a reasonably timely manner, with the organisation clearly deciding that there was no case to apply an exemption. 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.

Against that background, I am appealing your decision to engage FOIA exemption 36 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. Publication delayed is, effectively, publication denied.

On that basis, though recognizing 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.

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd. Your email has been received by the
helpdesk. We aim to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.

 

For more information please visit our website - [1]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Ltd, One Canada Square, London, E14 5AB, England. This
email is sent subject to our disclaimer which can be accessed via our
website at [2]www.hs2.org.uk/email-policy

References

Visible links
1. http://www.gov.uk/hs2
2. http://www.hs2.org.uk/email-policy

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Please see attached our response to your Freedom of Information request:
FOI15-1299.

 

Kind regards,

M. Aylwin

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[1]cid:image003.png@01CFC5D9.F18564E0Matthew Aylwin | Community Relations
Helpdesk | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn
High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, 19th Floor, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf,
London E14 5AB | [5]www.gov.uk/HS2

 

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Dear Mr Aylwin,

Thank you for your letter of the 2nd June ref FOI15-1299 responding to my appeal. This is a model of uncooperative obstruction and obfuscation. I note that you have completely amended your grounds for withholding the requested information from your earlier letter.

I wholly reject your suggestion that the EIRs are not engaged in this matter. The scale and extent of the emails you describe shows the extent to which the opinion poll information relates directly to the implementation of the environmentally impacting HS2 plan.

However, I recognise that as you claim the engagement of FOI Section 12 and given the extent and scale of the email exchanges as you have now revealed to me, it is possible that EIR Section 12(4)(c) would also be engaged.

Nonetheless engagement of EIR Section 12(4)(c) would still leave you to fulfil obligations under EIR Section 9 to provide advice and assistance.

And, even in engaging FOIA Section 12, as you claim, you have wholly failed to fulfil your obligations under FOIA Section 16, the duty to provide advice and assistance.

I would also draw your attention to subsection (2) of FOIA section 12 such that there was no barrier to your provision of readily accessible information that would be within the cost limit and which would obviously be relevant and helpful based upon the enquirers request. You have provided no justification or public interest argument to justify with holding such information.

Against that background, I wish to make it easy for you to you to respond appropriately and promptly by limiting the extent of my previous information request as follows:

“Please provide the full results of all opinion polls conducted or commissioned on behalf of HS2 Ltd or the DfT relating to HS2 since May 2013.”

Please note that this should not be treated as a new request for information, as you suggest, but is an amendment in the light of your earlier responses. This is a further appeal. As such, further prevarication in this matter will not be acceptable, will not be lawful and will be brought to the attention of the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Rukin

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Thank you for your information request dated 4 June. We are considering
your request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (2000). 

 

In your email dated 4 June 2015, you requested the following information:

 

“Please provide the full results of all opinion polls conducted or
commissioned on behalf of HS2 Ltd or the DfT relating to HS2 since May
2013.”

 

We consider that section 36(2)(b)(i) and (ii), and section 36(2)(c) are
likely to apply to the information which you have requested. Section 36(2)
states that:

 

“Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in
the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the
information under this Act-

(b) would, or would be likely to, inhibit -

(i) the free and frank provision of advice, or

(ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation
or

(c) would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice,
the effective conduct of public affairs”.

 

Section 36 of the FOI Act is a qualified exemption and subject to a public
interest test. The release of the opinion polls would reduce the ability
of HS2 Ltd to operate a ‘safe space’ in which to develop ideas, debate
live issues and reach decisions away from external interference and
distraction and therefore section 36(2) would apply. The exemption also
requires that the qualified person for the public authority must give
their reasonable opinion that the exemption is required. In the case of
HS2 Ltd, our qualified person is our Managing Director – Development and
she has confirmed that in her reasonable opinion section 36(2) would be
engaged. In this case we need to extend our response time limit by a
further 10 working days in order to complete the assessment of whether it
is in the public interest to disclose or withhold the information.
Therefore, we plan to let you have a response by Friday 17 July 2015.  If
possible we will respond sooner. 

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request or with the
decisions made in relation to your request, you may complain in writing to
HS2 Ltd at the address provided in the signature of this email. Please
also see attached details of HS2 Ltd’s complaints procedure and your right
to complain to the Information Commissioner.

 

Please remember to quote reference number FOI15-1333 in any future
communication relating to this request.

 

Kind regards,

Jane Ivey

Freedom of Information Manager

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

 

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Jane Ivey | Freedom of Information Manager | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [1][High Speed Two request email] | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter
| [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB  |
[5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

 

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Rukin,

 

Thank you for your information request.  Your request has been treated
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and I attach our response.
Please accept my apologies for the delay.

 

Kind regards,

Jane Ivey

 

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Jane Ivey | Freedom of Information Manager | HS2 Ltd 

Tel: 020 7944 4908 | [1][email address] | [2]Facebook | [3]Twitter
| [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, One Canada Square, London E14 5AB  |
[5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

 

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