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Freedom of Information Act 2000

Section 3: Public authorities

29.Subsection (1) defines the term “public authority” for the purposes of the Act.

30.The Act is intended to have wide application across the public sector at national, regional, and local level. In view of the large number of bodies and offices intended to fall within the scope of the Act it is not feasible to list each body individually. Public authorities are, therefore, designated in one of the following ways-


on the face of the Act (in Schedule 1), using generic descriptions where appropriate, which specifies the principal authorities in national and local government, together with the principal public authorities relating to the armed forces, national health service, education, the police and other public bodies and offices;


by order under section 4(1) adding to Schedule 1 any body or the holder of any office that satisfies certain specified conditions;


by order under section 5 adding any person that satisfies certain conditions and that appears to the Secretary of State to exercise functions of a public nature or is providing under a contract with a public authority any service whose provision is a function of that authority; or


by reference to the definition of a publicly-owned company in section 6.

31.Subsection (2) sets out the circumstances in which information is “held” by a public authority for the purposes of the Act. This does not extend to holding on behalf of another person or authority. It would not, for example, extend to a Minister’s constituency papers just because they were kept by the Minister in his Department. It includes information held elsewhere on behalf of an authority, for example in a private repository.

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