Freedom of Information Bill - continued        House of Lords

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  PART VIII
  MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTAL
Power to make provision relating to environmental information.     73. - (1) In this section "the Aarhus Convention" means the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters signed at Aarhus on 25th June 1998.
 
      (2) For the purposes of this section "the information provisions" of the Aarhus Convention are Article 4, together with Articles 3 and 9 so far as relating to that Article.
 
      (3) The Secretary of State may by regulations make such provision as he considers appropriate-
 
 
    (a) for the purpose of implementing the information provisions of the Aarhus Convention or any amendment of those provisions made in accordance with Article 14 of the Convention, and
 
    (b) for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of or related to the implementation of those provisions or of any such amendment.
      (4) Regulations under subsection (3) may in particular-
 
 
    (a) enable charges to be made for making information available in accordance with the regulations,
 
    (b) provide that any obligation imposed by the regulations in relation to the disclosure of information is to have effect notwithstanding any enactment or rule of law,
 
    (c) make provision for the issue by the Secretary of State of a code of practice,
 
    (d) provide for sections 46 and 47 to apply in relation to such a code with such modifications as may be specified,
 
    (e) provide for any of the provisions of Parts IV and V to apply, with such modifications as may be specified in the regulations, in relation to compliance with any requirement of the regulations, and
 
    (f) contain such transitional or consequential provision (including provision modifying any enactment) as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
      (5) This section has effect subject to section 79.
 
Power to amend or repeal enactments prohibiting disclosure of information.     74. - (1) If, with respect to any enactment which prohibits the disclosure of information held by a public authority, it appears to the Secretary of State that by virtue of section 43(1)(a) the enactment is capable of preventing the disclosure of information under section 1, he may by order repeal or amend the enactment for the purpose of removing or relaxing the prohibition.
 
      (2) In subsection (1)-
 
 
    "enactment" means-
 
      (a) any enactment contained in an Act passed before or in the same Session as this Act, or
 
      (b) any enactment contained in Northern Ireland legislation or subordinate legislation passed or made before the passing of this Act;
 
    "information" includes unrecorded information.
      (3) An order under this section may do all or any of the following-
 
 
    (a) make such modifications of enactments as, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, are consequential upon, or incidental to, the amendment or repeal of the enactment containing the prohibition;
 
    (b) contain such transitional provisions and savings as appear to the Secretary of State to be appropriate;
 
    (c) make different provision for different cases.
Disclosure of information between Commissioner and ombudsmen.     75. - (1) The Commissioner may disclose to a person specified in the first column of the Table below any information obtained by, or furnished to, the Commissioner under or for the purposes of this Act or the Data Protection Act 1998 if it appears to the Commissioner that the information relates to a matter which could be the subject of an investigation by that person under the enactment specified in relation to that person in the second column of that Table.
 
 
 
TABLE
 
Ombudsman
 
Enactment
 
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
 
The Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 (c. 13).
 
The Health Service Commissioner for England.
 
The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (c. 46).
 
The Health Service Commissioner for Wales.
 
The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (c. 46).
 
The Health Service Commissioner for Scotland.
 
The Health Service Commissioners Act 1993 (c. 46).
 
A Local Commissioner as defined by section 23(3) of the Local Government Act 1974.
 
Part III of the Local Government Act 1974 (c. 7).
 
The Commissioner for Local Administration in Scotland.
 
Part II of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1975 (c. 30).
 
The Scottish Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
 
The Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions)(Complaints of Maladministration) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1351).
 
The Welsh Administration Ombudsman.
 
Schedule 9 to the Government of Wales Act 1998 (c. 38).
 
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints.
 
The Commissioner for Complaints (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1297 (N.I. 7)).
 
The Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.
 
The Ombudsman (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (S.I. 1996/1298 (N.I. 8)).
      (2) Schedule 7 (which contains amendments relating to information disclosed to ombudsmen under subsection (1) and to the disclosure of information by ombudsmen to the Commissioner) has effect.
 
Offence of altering etc. records with intent to prevent disclosure.     76. - (1) Where-
 
 
    (a) a request for information has been made to a public authority, and
 
    (b) under section 1 of this Act or section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, the applicant would have been entitled (subject to payment of any fee) to communication of any information in accordance with that section,
       any person to whom this subsection applies is guilty of an offence if he alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled.
 
      (2) Subsection (1) applies to the public authority and to any person who is employed by, is an officer of, or is subject to the direction of, the public authority.
 
      (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
 
      (4) No proceedings for an offence under this section shall be instituted-
 
 
    (a) in England or Wales, except by the Commissioner or by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions;
 
    (b) in Northern Ireland, except by the Commissioner or by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.
Saving for existing powers.     77. Nothing in this Act is to be taken to limit the powers of a public authority to disclose information held by it.
 
Defamation.     78. Where any information communicated by a public authority to a person ("the applicant") under section 1 was supplied to the public authority by a third person, the publication to the applicant of any defamatory matter contained in the information shall be privileged unless the publication is shown to have been made with malice.
 
Scotland.     79. - (1) No order may be made under section 4(1) or 5 in relation to any of the bodies specified in subsection (2); and the power conferred by section 73(3) does not include power to make provision in relation to information held by any of those bodies.
 
      (2) The bodies referred to in subsection (1) are-
 
 
    (a) the Scottish Parliament,
 
    (b) any part of the Scottish Administration,
 
    (c) the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, or
 
    (d) any Scottish public authority with mixed functions or no reserved functions (within the meaning of the Scotland Act 1998).
 
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