Freedom of Information Bill - continued        House of Lords
PART I, ACCESS TO INFORMATION HELD BY PUBLIC AUTHORITIES - continued
Right to information - continued

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Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit.     12. - (1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.
 
      (2) Subsection (1) does not exempt the public authority from its obligation to comply with paragraph (a) of section 1(1) unless the estimated cost of complying with that paragraph alone would exceed the appropriate limit.
 
      (3) In subsections (1) and (2) "the appropriate limit" means such amount as may be prescribed, and different amounts may be prescribed in relation to different cases.
 
      (4) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more requests for information are made to a public authority-
 
 
    (a) by one person, or
 
    (b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
       the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them.
 
      (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for the purposes of this section as to the costs to be estimated and as to the manner in which they are to be estimated.
 
Fees for disclosure where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit.     13. - (1) A public authority may charge for the communication of any information whose communication-
 
 
    (a) is not required by section 1(1) because the cost of complying with the request for information exceeds the amount which is the appropriate limit for the purposes of section 12(1) and (2), and
 
    (b) is not otherwise required by law,
       such fee as may be determined by the public authority in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State.
 
      (2) Regulations under this section may, in particular, provide-
 
 
    (a) that any fee is not to exceed such maximum as may be specified in, or determined in accordance with, the regulations, and
 
    (b) that any fee is to be calculated in such manner as may be prescribed by the regulations.
      (3) Subsection (1) does not apply where provision is made by or under any enactment as to the fee that may be charged by the public authority for the disclosure of the information.
 
Vexatious or repeated requests.     14. - (1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious.
 
      (2) Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request.
 
Special provisions relating to public records transferred to Public Record Office, etc.     15. - (1) Where-
 
 
    (a) the appropriate records authority receives a request for information which relates to information which is, or if it existed would be, contained in a transferred public record, and
 
    (b) either of the conditions in subsection (2) is satisfied in relation to any of that information,
       that authority shall, within the period for complying with section 1(1), send a copy of the request to the responsible authority.
 
      (2) The conditions referred to in subsection (1)(b) are-
 
 
    (a) that the duty to confirm or deny is excluded only by a provision of Part II not specified in subsection (3) of section 2, and
 
    (b) that the information is exempt information only by virtue of a provision of Part II not specified in that subsection.
      (3) On receiving the copy, the responsible authority shall, within such time as is reasonable in all the circumstances, inform the appropriate records authority of the determination required by virtue of subsection (3) or (4) of section 65.
 
      (4) In this Act "transferred public record" means a public record which has been transferred-
 
 
    (a) to the Public Record Office,
 
    (b) to another place of deposit appointed by the Lord Chancellor under the Public Records Act 1958, or
 
    (c) to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
      (5) In this Act-
 
 
    "appropriate records authority", in relation to a transferred public record, means-
 
      (a) in a case falling within subsection (4)(a), the Public Record Office,
 
      (b) in a case falling within subsection (4)(b), the Lord Chancellor, and
 
      (c) in a case falling within subsection (4)(c), the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland;
 
    "responsible authority", in relation to a transferred public record, means-
 
      (a) in the case of a record transferred as mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (b) from a government department in the charge of a Minister of the Crown, the Minister of the Crown who appears to the Lord Chancellor to be primarily concerned,
 
      (b) in the case of a record transferred as mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (b) from any other person, the person who appears to the Lord Chancellor to be primarily concerned,
 
      (c) in the case of a record transferred to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland from a government department in the charge of a Minister of the Crown, the Minister of the Crown who appears to the appropriate Northern Ireland Minister to be primarily concerned,
 
      (d) in the case of a record transferred to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland from a Northern Ireland department, the Northern Ireland Minister who appears to the appropriate Northern Ireland Minister to be primarily concerned, or
 
      (e) in the case of a record transferred to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland from any other person, the person who appears to the appropriate Northern Ireland Minister to be primarily concerned.
 
Refusal of request
Refusal of request.     16. - (1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that by virtue of any provision of Part II the duty to confirm or deny does not arise or on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-
 
 
    (a) states that fact,
 
    (b) specifies the exemption in question,
 
    (c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
      (2) Where-
 
 
    (a) in relation to any request for information, a public authority is, as respects any information, relying on a claim-
 
      (i) that the duty to confirm or deny is excluded only by a provision of Part II not specified in section 2(3), or
 
      (ii) that the information is exempt information only by virtue of such a provision, and
 
    (b) at the time when the notice under subsection (1) is given to the applicant, the public authority (or, in a case falling within section 65(3) or (4), the responsible authority) has not yet reached a decision as to the application of subsection (1)(b) or (2)(b) of section 2,
       the notice under subsection (1) must indicate that no decision as to the application of that provision has yet been reached.
 
      (3) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that subsection (1)(b) or (2)(b) of section 2 does not apply must, either in the notice under subsection (1) or in a separate notice given within such time as is reasonable in the circumstances, state the reasons for claiming-
 
 
    (a) that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to confirm or deny outweighs the public interest in disclosing whether the authority holds the information, or
 
    (b) that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
      (4) A public authority is not obliged to make a statement under subsection (1)(c) or (3) if, or to the extent that, the statement would involve the disclosure of information which would itself be exempt information.
 
      (5) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is relying on a claim that section 12 or 14 applies must, within the time for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that fact.
 
      (6) Subsection (5) does not apply where-
 
 
    (a) the public authority is relying on a claim that section 14 applies,
 
    (b) the authority has given the applicant a notice, in relation to a previous request for information, stating that it is relying on such a claim, and
 
    (c) it would in all the circumstances be unreasonable to expect the authority to serve a further notice under subsection (5) in relation to the current request.
      (7) A notice under subsection (1), (3) or (5) must-
 
 
    (a) contain particulars of any procedure provided by the public authority for dealing with complaints about the handling of requests for information or state that the authority does not provide such a procedure, and
 
    (b) contain particulars of the right conferred by section 49.
 
The Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal
The Information Commissioner and the Information Tribunal.     17. - (1) The Data Protection Commissioner shall be known instead as the Information Commissioner.
 
      (2) The Data Protection Tribunal shall be known instead as the Information Tribunal.
 
      (3) In this Act-
 
 
    (a) the Information Commissioner is referred to as "the Commissioner", and
 
    (b) the Information Tribunal is referred to as "the Tribunal".
      (4) Schedule 2 (which makes provision consequential on subsections (1) and (2) and amendments of the Data Protection Act 1998 relating to the extension by this Act of the functions of the Commissioner and the Tribunal) has effect.
 
      (5) If the person who held office as Data Protection Commissioner immediately before the day on which this Act is passed remains in office as Information Commissioner at the end of the period of two years beginning with that day, he shall vacate his office at the end of that period.
 
      (6) Subsection (5) does not prevent the re-appointment of a person whose appointment is terminated by that subsection.
 
      (7) In the application of paragraph 2(4)(b) and (5) of Schedule 5 to the Data Protection Act 1998 (Commissioner not to serve for more than fifteen years and not to be appointed, except in special circumstances, for a third or subsequent term) to anything done after the passing of this Act, there shall be left out of account any term of office served by virtue of an appointment made before the passing of this Act.
 
 
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