progress on internal review F09-343

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 partially successful.

Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please release all internal correspondence and documents generated in relation to internal review request F09-343. (

This is a request either under FOI or under the DPA if you consider that s40(1) applies (though I do not think that it does.)

There is a strong public interest in releasing this information because you have breached both the ICO guidance and your own internal guidelines on the timescales for internal review requests, and have not provided any updates on when the review will be completed despite repeated requests. This is a repeated pattern with the House of Commons and is evidence of clear administrative failings. The pattern is not just limited to the recent period triggered by the MPs' expenses scandal but has been continuing for a number of years.

If you choose to withhold information, then please keep the redactions to an absolute minimum rather than withholding entire documents. For example, as well as knowing the contents of these documents, I am interested in knowing how much work you have done and when you have done it, so even just skeletons with dates would be useful. If you choose to redact names, please replace them with an indication of the role and seniority of the person.

If you think that the costs limit applies to this request then as advice and assistance please supply a full numerical breakdown of your estimate of the time required so that I can understand what specific changes I can make to bring the request within the limit.

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Ganesh Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request of information dated 17 September 2009, received by us on the same day, which is copied below.

We shall deal with your request promptly and endeavour to provide a response by 15 October 2009.

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

Yours sincerely

Vanessa Cubillo
Freedom of Information Assistant

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Thank you for your request for information which is copied below.

The information held by the House of Commons and which can be disclosed is attached.

Other information is held by the House but is subject to legal professional privilege and is therefore exempt under s.42 of the Freedom of Information Act. This is a qualified exemption and we have therefore carried out a public interest test. Factors in favour of disclosure include the public interest in transparency in how public authorities deal with requests under the Act and in how public money and resources are used in dealing with those requests. Factors in favour of withholding this information include the public interest in enabling public authorities to obtain full and proper legal advice, thus enabling informed decision-making to take place. It is well established that the public interest in maintaining legal professional privilege carries a great deal of weight and we consider that these factors outweigh those in favour of disclosure.

In addition, names of staff who are not senior officials have been redacted. This information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the exemption for personal information), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Finally, we have considered the penultimate paragraph of your request, in which you have explained that you are interested in knowing how much work has been done and when it was carried out. In order to assist you in this regard, we have attached a schedule of documents which are held by the House with regard to your request. We have included in that schedule, details of the dates and timings of e-mails, together with a description of the role of the staff involved. This information is itself subject to legal professional privilege, as it confirms the fact that legal advice has been obtained. However, in this case, we have decided to provide this information in order to assist. You should note that this is no way intended as a precedent for the waiver of any aspect of legal professional privilege in relation to this or other requests and does not constitute a waiver which goes wider than the information provided.

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

Katarina Ndrepepaj
Freedom of Information Co-ordinator

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