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Freedom of Information Act 2000

Freedom of Information Act 2000

2000 CHAPTER 36

Commentary on Sections

Part II:  Exempt information

Section 36: Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

131.This section relates to information held by government departments which is not exempt by virtue of section 35 and information held by other public authorities. Subsection (2) provides that information is exempt if, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, its disclosure:

  • would, or would be likely to, prejudice the maintenance of the convention of collective ministerial responsibility,

  • would, or would be likely to, prejudice the work of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly or the National Assembly for Wales,

  • would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views, or

  • would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely to otherwise prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.

132.Subsection (3) provides that the obligation under section 1(1)(a) to confirm or deny that the requested information is held does not arise in relation to information which is exempt by virtue of subsection (2) if, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, compliance would, or would be likely to, have any of the adverse effects referred to.

133.Subsection (4) provides that in the case of statistical information, the test is the same as in subsections (2) and (3) but is a simple prejudice test (that is, the reasonable opinion of a qualified person does not apply to statistical information).

134.Subsection (5) defines a “qualified person”.

135.Subsection (7) provides that a certificate signed by the Speaker of the House of Commons, in relation to that House, or the Clerk of the Parliaments, in relation to the House of Lords, and stating that in his reasonable opinion, disclosure of information held by either House, or compliance with section 1(1)(a), would have the effects mentioned in subsection (2), is to be conclusive evidence that the exemption applies.

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