Freedom of Information Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Minister of State, Cabinet Office 9:30 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, what the noble Viscount is saying reveals a fundamental misunderstanding here. Clause 10(3) deals with the time taken to reach a decision. The noble Viscount's amendment quite properly deals with the question: does the fact that a long period of time has elapsed since the event occurred on which information is now required affect the exercise of the public interest discretion under Clause 2? The reply to that is: of course the age of the information will be a relevant consideration when deciding where the public interest lies under the provisions of Clause 2. Plainly, that will be the case. However, that it is a relevant consideration is not excluded as a matter of construction, by reason of Clause 10, which imposes time limits on the period within which a public authority must reach a decision about whether to disclose. That, with respect, is where the confusion lies here.