Select Committee on Public Administration Second Report


Letter from the Clerk, Public Administration Committee, to all Departments

As you may remember, the Select Committee on Public Administration has continued the practice initiated in 1995-1996 by the Public Services Committee of obtaining from the Table Office of the House of Commons a list of the questions which the Table Office has 'blocked' in the previous session because of Ministers' refusal to answer. For the last two years the Committee asked departments to expand on the reasons given for such refusals, and this year it has decided to do the same again, for answers given in the 1998-99 session. I enclose a copy of the letter from the Principal Clerk, Table Office dated 27 January 2000, and the part of the list that relates to your department.

The Committee would like you to explain more fully why it was necessary to withhold information; to indicate, where a refusal is justified by reference to a 'practice' or a policy, what is the reason for that practice or policy; and to indicate in each case where there is not reference to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (which, as you know, the guidance on answering Parliamentary Questions says should be referred to when departments withhold information in response to a Parliamentary Question) how the refusal relates to the Code. The Committee does not need any further information on cases where the information requested was not held or collected by the Department, or was the responsibility of another Department.

I should be grateful if you could reply by Wednesday, 5 July.

9 June 2000

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