Precedent Book (most recent version)

Mr Cross made this Freedom of Information request to Cabinet Office

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 Cabinet Office,
Please provide me with an electronic copy of the most recent version of the Precedent Book.

Note that I am not asking for the Cabinet Manual, and I am not asking for the pre-1950s Precedent Book currently available from the National Archives. I would like the current version or if there is no current version the most recent version.

I note that in June 2011 the Cabinet Office refused a similar request because the book was planned for future publication.[1] That was well over a year ago and I now consider that the public interest is in favour of disclosure irrespective of the Cabinet Office's intention to publish at some future time.

In the event my request is refused, please supply evidence of the internal decision to publish the book at a future time. I would be interested in knowing the intended future publication date and the intended means of publication.

[1]http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pr...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

1 Attachment

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  FOI317175

Dear MR CROSS

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received
on 5/11/2012 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

 

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FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cross

 

Please see attached the reply to your request.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Knowledge and Information Management (CSG)

Room 3.32 |1 Horse Guards Road |London SW1A 2HQ

Email: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Cabinet Office,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Cabinet Office's handling of my FOI request 'Precedent Book (most recent version)'.

My grounds for complaint are as follows:

(1) The Cabinet Office ("the public authority") has failed to provide the information I requested and failed to issue a valid refusal notice. Under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") the public authority is required to clearly identify any exemptions it wishes to rely on and explain why they apply. Unfortunately, because the public authority has not clearly set out the exemption(s) or public interest consideration(s) it may be planning to rely on, I have had to draft a complaint which addresses all the exemptions hinted at in its response. This has resulted in a longer complaint than might otherwise have been necessary.

(2) Under Section 11 of the Act the public authority is required as far as reasonably practicable give effect to my preference to receive the requested information in electronic form. If this proves to be impractical the public authority nevertheless has an obligation under Section 1 to provide the information I have requested. I am not required to provide a postal address and have not done so. The public authority should therefore provide the requested information electronically.

(3) The fact that the public authority is reviewing the information with a view to publication in the future is not a reason to withhold the information from me. Section 22 of the Act exists for information intended for future publication not information that is intended to be considered for future publication.

Even if the Precedent Book was published by the public authority at some unspecified future time it could well be an updated and edited version and hence the published version would not be the information I have requested but information with some similarities to the information I have requested.

My view on the basis of the evidence the public authority has provided is that Section 22 is not engaged.

(4) Even if the Section 22 exemption was engaged it is subject to a public interest test. The public authority has not provided any evidence that a public interest test has been carried out or listed out any factors in favour of withholding the information requested.

(5) There is an overwhelming public interest in favour of disclosing the Precedent Book. Disclosure would:

(a) increase public knowledge and understanding of the operation of the Government of the United Kingdom and of the laws and conventions by which it is constrained; and
(b) provide the public with more information so citizens are better able to understand and challenge decisions made by Ministers of the Crown and Civil Servants; and
(c) allow a better informed debate on the future of the British Constitution; and
(d) enable further serious academic research into the British Constitution and the role of the Cabinet Office.

In short release of the Precedent Book will result in increased accountability and a stronger democracy in the United Kingdom.

(6) I note that in June 2011 the Cabinet Office refused a similar request because the book was planned for future publication.[1] That was well over a year ago and I now consider that this strengthens the public interest is in favour of disclosure because very little weight can be given to any intention the public authority now expresses to publish the Precedent Book.

The fact that the public authority has failed to provide any of the following despite being asked specifically to do so in my original request further strengthens the public interest in favour of disclosure:

- evidence of the internal decision to publish the book at a future time; or
- intended future publication date; or
- intended means of publication.

(7) The Precedent Book may contain information on measures (including administrative measures), such as policies and legislation affecting or likely to affect the environment. Such information should be provided to me under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 under which there is no "intended for future publication exemption".

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

[1] http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pr...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Precedent Book most recent version.txt

    6K Download View as HTML

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR317175

Dear MR CROSS

Thank you for your request for an internal review. Your request was
received on 23/11/2012 and is being dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

 

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Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,
Please can you let me know where you are up to with this internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

My complaint to the ICO sent today to casework email address is pasted in below. (There could be minor formatting issues with spacing etc when cutting and pasting.)

-------------------------------------------------
My ref: 2012_precedent_book

Dear ICO
I am writing to complain about the Cabinet Office's handling of my
request for recorded information 'Precedent Book (most recent
version)'. On 22 November 2012, I complained to the Cabinet Office
about its handling of my request but I have not received a substantive
response.

My complaint is as follows:

(1) The Cabinet Office ("the public authority") failed to provide the
information I requested and failed to issue a valid refusal notice.
Under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act")
the public authority is required to clearly identify any exemptions it
wishes to rely on and explain why they apply. Unfortunately, because
the public authority has not clearly set out the exemption(s) or
public interest consideration(s) it may be planning to rely on, I have
had to draft a complaint which addresses all the exemptions hinted at
in its response. This has resulted in a longer complaint than might
otherwise have been necessary.

(2) Under Section 11 of the Act the public authority is required as
far as reasonably practicable give effect to my preference to receive
the requested information in electronic form. If this proves to be
impractical the public authority nevertheless has an obligation under
Section 1 to provide the information I have requested. I am not
required to provide a postal address and have not done so. The public
authority should therefore provide the requested information
electronically.

(3) The fact that the public authority is reviewing the information
with a view to publication in the future is not a reason to withhold
the information from me. Section 22 of the Act exists for information
intended for future publication not information that is intended to be
considered for future publication.

Even if the Precedent Book was published by the public authority at
some unspecified future time it could well be an updated and edited
version and hence the published version would not be the information I
have requested but information with some similarities to the
information I have requested.

My view on the basis of the evidence the public authority has provided
is that Section 22 is not engaged.

(4) Even if the Section 22 exemption was engaged it is subject to a
public interest test. The public authority has not provided any
evidence that a public interest test has been carried out or listed
out any factors in favour of withholding the information requested.

(5) There is an overwhelming public interest in favour of disclosing
the Precedent Book. Disclosure would:

(a) increase public knowledge and understanding of the operation of
the Government of the United Kingdom and of the laws and conventions
by which it is constrained; and
(b) provide the public with more information so citizens are better
able to understand and challenge decisions made by Ministers of the
Crown and Civil Servants; and
(c) allow a better informed debate on the future of the British
Constitution; and
(d) enable further serious academic research into the British
Constitution and the role of the Cabinet Office.

In short release of the Precedent Book will result in increased
accountability and a stronger democracy in the United Kingdom. The
public interest would have been best served by responding in full to
my request of 4 November 2012 without delay. The public interest
factors referred to above are now best served by immediate
publication.

(6) I note that in June 2011 the Cabinet Office refused a similar
request because the book was planned for future publication.[A] That
was well over a year ago and I now consider that this strengthens the
public interest is in favour of disclosure because very little weight
can be given to any intention the public authority now expresses to
publish the Precedent Book.

The fact that the public authority has failed to provide any of the
following despite being asked specifically to do so in my original
request further strengthens the public interest in favour of
disclosure:

- evidence of the internal decision to publish the book at a future time; or
- intended future publication date; or
- intended means of publication.

(7) The Precedent Book may contain information on measures (including
administrative measures), such as policies and legislation affecting
or likely to affect the environment. Such information should be
provided to me under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
under which there is no "intended for future publication exemption".

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

***References***
[A] http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/pr...

Please acknowledge receipt of my complaint.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Cross
[my signature block]
-------------------------------------------------

Dear FOI Team,
Please can you update me with regards to my request for an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Dear FOI Team,
Please can you update me with regards to my request for an internal review.

many thanks,

Mr Cross

Dear FOI Team,
On 23 November 2012, you acknowledged receipt of my request for an internal review. I have followed up on this subsequently but not received any response.

I would be very grateful for an update.

many thanks,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your recent email, below. Apologies for the delay in reply. This is due to the fact that the subject in question involves a good deal of sensitive material and is taking time to assess.
We hope to have a reply with you as soon as possible.

Regards

FOI Team
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

Email: [Cabinet Office request email]

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Dear Cabinet Office,
I made a Freedom of Information request on the 4 November 2012. On 22 November 2012, the Cabinet Office refused to provide the information requested. The legal basis for this refusal was highly questionable. I request an internal review on the same day and pointed out a number of reasons why the refusal was unlawful.

Guidance from the Information Commissioner states that: "the Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review"

The Cabinet Office has not dealt with the internal review in the time period recommended by the independent regulator. Please could you now set out a timetable for providing the information I have requested in full.

many thanks,

Mr Cross

Dear Cabinet Office.
You wrote on 12 February: "We hope to have a reply with you as soon as possible."

Please could you now provide and update and set out a clear timetable for providing the information I have requested.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Dear FOI Team,
Please could you reply to my correspondence.

many thanks,

Mr Cross

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

Decision notice here - in my favour: FS50490256 - http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

Dear Cabinet Office,
Please provide me with an electronic copy of the most recent version of the Precedent Book. Note that I am not asking for the Cabinet Manual, and I am not asking for the pre-1950s Precedent Book currently available from the National Archives. I would like the current version or if there is no current version the most recent version.

The Information Commissioner has ordered the Cabinet Office to "Provide a fresh response to the [original request that is compliant with the requirements of sections 1, 11 and 17 of the FOIA." within 35 Calendar Days.

http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

Given however that this email constitutes a new request you are required to provide the relevant response "promptly" in line with Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The word "promptly" is not defined in the Act however it is clear from the wording of the Act that it can require a response in less than twenty working days. All the circumstances of the request need to be taken into account when interpreting promptly. I draw to your attention to a number of relevant circumstances for the purposes of interpreting "promptly" in this case:

(1) My request is clear and succinct and I have pointed to a single 'book' which contains the information I seek.

(2) The independent regulator found that the Cabinet Office acted unlawfully in dealing with an earlier request for the same information:

"In the event, it appears to the Commissioner that the Cabinet Office failed to properly engage with the complainant’s request. Responding stating only that the requested information was not held in electronic form, but then going on to vaguely refer to information that was held and in relation to which there was a brief mention of an intention to publish in future, was not adequate for the requirements of any of sections 1, 11 or 17."
http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/deci...

(3) There is an overwhelming public interest in favour of disclosing the Precedent Book promptly. Disclosure would:

(a) increase public knowledge and understanding of the operation of the Government of the United Kingdom and of the laws and conventions by which it is constrained; and
(b) provide the public with more information so citizens are better able to understand and challenge decisions made by Ministers of the Crown and Civil Servants; and
(c) allow a better informed debate on the future of the British Constitution; and
(d) enable further serious academic research into the British Constitution and the role of the Cabinet Office.

In short release of the Precedent Book will result in increased accountability and a stronger democracy in the United Kingdom.

(4) The Cabinet Office has substantially more resources potentially available for answering requests than other smaller public authorities such as Parish Councils.

Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, I believe that the Cabinet Office should provide all of the information I have requested within ten working days. I am willing to work with the Cabinet Office to try to agree a timetable acceptable to both parties. If however the Cabinet Office is unwilling to negotiate with me I will act on the basis that "promptly" in this case means within ten working days.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE: FOI317948

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received on
16/05/2013 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

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Dear Cabinet Office
Please can you carry out an internal review into my request for recorded information dated 16 May 2013.

The Cabinet Office has failed to comply with the requirement contained in Section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 "a public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly" in respect of this request.

As to the interpretation of "promptly" as it applies in this case I rely on my email of 16 May 2013. (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...)

I am also still waiting for the Cabinet Office to complete an internal review for a similar request for recorded information - I asked for this internal review on 22 November 2012.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

Dear Mr Cross

Please note that your most recent FOI request - FOI317948 - constitutes a repeat request - in relation to your previous request FOI317175.
As you are aware the Information Commissioner has ordered the CO to provide you with a fresh response to the latter. You will receive this within the next 2-3 days. This will then also close your active case - FOI317948.
As that case is still open at this time it is not appropriate to request an internal review at this stage.
If, once you have received our reply, you still with to request an internal review, please submit your request at that time.

Regards

FOI Team
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

Email: [Cabinet Office request email]

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FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cross

 

Please see attached the reply to your request.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Knowledge and Information Management (CSG)

Room 3.32 |1 Horse Guards Road |London SW1A 2HQ

Email: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

show quoted sections

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cross

 

Please see attached the reply to your request.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Knowledge and Information Management (CSG)

Room 3.32 |1 Horse Guards Road |London SW1A 2HQ

Email: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

show quoted sections

Dear Cabinet Office
Please can you carry out an internal review into FOI317175 and inform me of the outcome within twenty working days of the date of this email.

Please ensure that you clearly identify which information is covered by each of the exemptions you are claiming.

I also suggest that you withdraw the previous public interest assessment you provided which I consider to be an inappropriate assessment.

I would be grateful if you could now provide the information I have asked for in full.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

Dear Cabinet Office,
Please carry out an internal review into your handling of FOI317948 and let me know the outcome in the next twenty working days.

My main concern with your response is that you relied on Section 14(2) which relieves public authorities from the duty to comply with a request if it has previously complied with a request for identical or substantially similar information. The Cabinet Office was found by the Information Commissioner to have failed to comply with three separate sections of the Act with regards to my original request and in case the Cabinet Office did not provide me with any of the requested information. This exemption is therefore not available to the Cabinet Office.

I believe that there is a strong public interest in getting the Precedent Book released and that I have acted reasonably in requesting the information a second time given that the Cabinet Office has been found by the independent regulator to have broken the law with respect to my first request.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Cross

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Precedent Book most recent version.txt

    1K Download View as HTML

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR317175

Dear MR CROSS

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received
on 20/6/2013 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

 

show quoted sections

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Precedent Book most recent version.txt

    1K Download View as HTML

 

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR317175

Dear MR CROSS

Thank you for your request for an internal review. Your request was
received on 20/6/2013 and is being dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

 

show quoted sections

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR317948

Dear MR CROSS

Thank you for your request for an internal review. Your request was
received on 20/6/2013 and is being dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

 

show quoted sections

Steve Elibank left an annotation ()

What's the latest with this? Is the ICO looking into the ridiculous delay doing an internal review?

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

I complained to ICO some time ago by email. The ICO know that the Cabinet Office didn't comply with the Decision Notice but are unwilling to do anything about it. I was told to wait for the outcome of a second internal review. I then complained again the ICO when the second internal review was not completed in a reasonable time frame. The person at the ICO I was dealing with asked me to fill in the ICO's complaint form. (... I tend to have software issues with this and I left it for some time until ...) I have today following the annotation above emailed casework explaining why I don't need to fill in the form to make an application for a decision and to pursue this matter.

FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cross

Please find attached a reply to your request for an internal review.

Apologies for the delay.

Regards

FOI Team
Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road
SW1A 2HQ
[email address]

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FOI Team - Cabinet Office [Restricted],

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cross

Please find attached a reply to your request for an internal review.

Apologies for the delay.

Regards

FOI Team
Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road
SW1A 2HQ
[email address]

show quoted sections

Steve Elibank left an annotation ()

Is anyone else having trouble opening these attachments?

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

Yes. Try saving as ".pdf" rather than ".txt.pdf".

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

The ICO has been in touch. The ICO asked to provide evidence of my claim that the Cabinet Office had used the 'future publication' exemption some time ago. I have provided the evidence. The ICO have said that it requires nothing further from me at the present time.

Mr Cross left an annotation ()

I have uploaded a number of chapters of the Precedent Book here: http://www.confirmordeny.org.uk/?p=762