Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report


  • We continue to be disappointed by the failure of many departments to adopt a practice recommended by this Committee and accepted by the Government, and recommend again that the Government ensure that where Departments withhold information under an exemption in the Code of Practice (or later under the Freedom of Information Act 2000) they invariably cite the relevant exemption.

  • We recommend that when Departments are considering refusing to answer a question on the grounds of 'disproportionate cost' there should be a presumption that any of the requested information which is readily available should be given.

  • We deplore the practice of leaving a question unanswered until another Member tables a similar question and then answering the second question first and the earlier one only by reference, and recommend that in cases where two similar questions are tabled the Member who tabled the question first should receive the substantive answer.

  • We deplore the practice of answering part only of a question and ignoring the rest, whether it arises out of policy or slackness; we recommend that Departments should introduce stringent checks to ensure that all parts of a question are addressed.

  • We hope that following the intervention of the Cabinet Secretary and the Minister there will be improvements in departmental responses to Members in the next Session of Parliament.

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