To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what criteria are used to determine whether a Freedom of Information Request is sufficiently sensitive to be referred to the Cabinet Office Freedom of Information Clearing House.
30 November 2020
This Government is fully committed to transparency, and ensuring all requests for Freedom of Information (FOI) are handled appropriately. All requests are considered in an applicant-blind manner, regardless of - for example - the occupation of the applicant. The Cabinet Office FOI process complies with relevant protections under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Cabinet Minister issues a Code of Practice, available on gov.uk, which provides guidance and advice to public authorities on the handling of Freedom of Information Requests. In addition, and in line with practice since 2005, the Cabinet Office provides advice to Departments, to ensure cases are handled consistently, and sensitive material handled appropriately. A Clearing House was established in 2004 and has operated in different forms since the FOI Act came into force in January 2005 as an advice centre to coordinate complex requests across Whitehall. There is now no stand alone Clearing House team, but coordination functions are carried out by a number of staff members who have a range of wider responsibilities. Policy responsibility for Freedom of Information transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Cabinet Office in 2015.