UK Intergovernmental Council

Waiting for an internal review by Cabinet Office of their handling of this request.

Kenneth MacArthur

Dear Cabinet Office,

I am writing to make a request for information under section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please can you confirm whether the Cabinet Office holds any information produced since 14 March 2018 (when the review of intergovernmental relations was commissioned by the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC)) which relates to the matters of:
a) The creation of a UK Intergovernmental Council (UKIC), UK Government and Devolved Administrations Council, or similar replacement for the JMC.
b) What the name of such a body should be - including, but not limited to, the advantages and disadvantages of the names (i) UK Intergovernmental Council, and (ii) UK Government and Devolved Administrations Council.
c) Whether the chairmanship of such a body should be permanently held by the UK prime minister, or rotated among the heads of each of the member administrations.
d) Whether such a body should be put on a statutory footing.

If any such information exists, please can you provide it to me.

Thanks in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth MacArthur

Cabinet Office FOI Team,

Our ref: FOI2021/07253

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 27th
March. Your request is being handled under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 ('the Act').

The Act requires that a response must be given promptly, and in any event
within 20 working days. We will therefore aim to reply at the latest by
27th April.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

Cabinet Office

Cabinet Office FOI Team,

1 Attachment

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
request (reference FOI2021/07253).

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Team

Cabinet Office

Kenneth MacArthur

Dear Cabinet Office,

Thank you for your reply of 23 April 2021 regarding my freedom of information request with FOI reference FOI2021/07253.

You state that "information relevant to [my] request could be contained in many files" since (ie, because) "the review of intergovernmental relations was jointly initiated with the devolved administrations in 2018". That is, the reason that information relevant to my request could be contained in "many" files is the length of time that the review of intergovernmental relations has been ongoing (approximately three years).

However, you then go on to say that "even a shorter period would require us to search many files and would not be sufficient, on its own, to make it possible for us to comply with your request within the appropriate limit". This appears to be in tension with the previous assertion, the logical conclusion of which is that if the review of intergovernmental relations had started only last week, say, information relevant to it would not be contained in many files, and thus my request could be complied with (or at least complying with it would not exceed the appropriate limit).

In any case, the logical inference of the latter remark is that the Cabinet Office can never respond positively to a freedom of information request about any matter which has been treated over a period of time, even if the requester is willing to limit the time period to which their request relates. This surely must mean that the Cabinet Office can almost never respond positively to freedom of information requests at all.

Is that really the case, or is there an angle here which I am missing?

I would appreciate your guidance before attempting to refine my request.

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth MacArthur

Cabinet Office FOI Team,

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Thank you for your request for an internal review (reference
IR2021/09749), which was prompted by our response to your request for
information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We shall endeavour to complete the internal review and respond to you
within 20 working days.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

FOI Team