FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

Meetings of the Government.

19

19. (1) A head F30 [ shall refuse ] to grant a request under section 7 if the record concerned—

( a) has been, or is proposed to be, submitted to the Government for their consideration by a Minister of the Government or the Attorney General and was created for that purpose,

F31 [ ( aa ) consists of a communication

(i) between two or more members of the Government relating to a matter that is under consideration by the Government or is proposed to be submitted to the Government, or

(ii) between two or more such members who form, or form part of, a group of such members to which a matter has been referred by the Government for consideration by the group and the communication relates to that matter, ]

( b) is a record of the Government other than a record by which a decision of the Government is published to the general public by or on behalf of the Government, or

( c) contains information (including advice) for a member of the Government, the Attorney General, a Minister of State, the Secretary to the Government or the Assistant Secretary to the Government for use by him or her F32 [ primarily ] for the purpose of the transaction of any business of the Government at a meeting of the Government.

(2) A head shall refuse to grant a request under section 7 if the record concerned—

( a) contains the whole or part of a statement made at a meeting of the Government or information that reveals, or from which may be inferred, the substance of the whole or part of such a statement, and

F33 [ ( b )     is not a record by which a decision of the Government is published to the general public by or on behalf of the Government. ]

F34 [ (3) Subject to the provisions of this Act, subsection (1) does not apply to a record referred to in that subsection

( a ) if and in so far as it contains factual information relating to a decision of the Government that has been published to the general public,

( b ) if the record relates to a decision of the Government that was made more than 10 years before the receipt by the head concerned of the request under section 7 concerned, or

( c ) if the record relates to a communication to which subsection (1) ( aa ) applies and the communication was made more than 10 years before the receipt by the head concerned of the request under section 7 concerned. ]

F35 [ (4) The Secretary General to the Government shall, in each year after the year 2003, furnish to the Commissioner a report in writing specifying the number of certificates issued by him or her in the preceding year under paragraph ( b ) of the definition of Government in subsection (6). ]

(5) Where a request under section 7 relates to a record to which subsection (1) applies, or would, if the record existed, apply, and the head concerned is satisfied that the disclosure of the existence or non-existence of the record would be contrary to the public interest, he or she shall refuse to grant the request and shall not disclose to the requester concerned whether or not the record exists.

(6) In this section—

decision of the Government” includes the noting or approving by the Government of a record submitted to them;

record” includes a preliminary or other draft of the whole or part of the material contained in the record;

F36 [ Government (except in paragraphs ( a ) and ( b )) includes

( a ) a committee of the Government, that is to say, a committee appointed by the Government whose membership consists of

(i) members of the Government, or

(ii) one or more members of the Government together with either or both of the following:

(I) one or more Ministers of State,

(II) the Attorney General,

and

( b ) a committee of officials

(i) that is appointed by the Government for the purpose of assisting the Government in relation to a particular matter that has been submitted to the Government for their consideration,

(ii) that is requested by the Government to report directly to them in relation to the matter, and

(iii) in relation to which the Secretary General to the Government certifies in writing at the time of its appointment that it is a committee of officials falling within this paragraph; ]

F31 [ officials means two or more of the following persons:

( a ) a person holding a position in the Civil Service of the Government or the Civil Service of the State;

( b ) a special adviser within the meaning of section 19 of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 ;

( c ) a person who is a member of any of such other (if any) classes of person as may be prescribed. ]