To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 1 November (HL3172), (1) whether the decision not to publish the report commissioned from NatCen on the uses of health and disability benefits is consistent with the Publication Protocol for Government Social Research, and (2) what plans they have, if any, to explain how the private space for policy development is relevant to the decision not to publish the NatCen report.
22 November 2021
The Publication Protocol for Government Social Research provides guidance on the publication of social research, but it is important that Ministers consider research and its publication on a case by case basis and in the best interests of Government policy formation.
The report in question engages an exemption from disclosure because it relates to the formulation or development of this government policy – Section 35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act. This exemption protects the private space within which Ministers and their policy advisers can develop policies without the risk of premature disclosure.
I am satisfied that in this instance the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. Therefore, I do not intend to publish this research at present.