Deliberations of public bodies.


20.— F37 [ (1) A head may refuse to grant a request under section 7 if the record concerned contains matter relating to the deliberative processes of a public body (including opinions, advice, recommendations, and the results of consultations, considered by the body, the head of the body, or a member of the body or of the staff of the body for the purpose of those processes).

(1A) ( a ) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a head shall refuse to grant a request under section 7 in respect of a record in relation to which a Secretary General of a Department of State has issued a certificate in writing stating that the record contains matter relating to the deliberative processes of a Department of State.

( b ) Where a certificate under paragraph ( a ) is in force and the Secretary General of the Department of State concerned is satisfied that the deliberative processes concerned have ended, he or she shall, by certificate in writing, revoke the certificate and, thereupon, paragraph ( a ) shall cease to apply.

( c ) A certificate under this subsection shall be final and, accordingly, an application for a review under section 14 or 34 in relation to a decision under paragraph ( a ) shall not lie.

( d ) A Secretary General of a Department of State 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 ( a ) and the number of certificates so issued under paragraph ( b ). ]

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a record if and in so far as it contains—

( a) matter used, or intended to be used, by a public body for the purpose of making decisions, determinations or recommendations referred to in section 16 ,

( b) F37 [ ( b ) factual information, ]

( c) the reasons for the making of a decision by a public body,

( d) a report of an investigation or analysis of the performance, efficiency or effectiveness of a public body in relation to the functions generally or a particular function of the body,

( e) a report, study or analysis of a scientific or technical expert relating to the subject of his or her expertise or a report containing opinions or advice of such an expert and not being a report used or commissioned for the purposes of a decision of a public body made pursuant to any enactment or scheme.

F38 [ (3) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a case in which, in the opinion of the head concerned, the public interest would, on balance, be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the request. ]