Freedom of Information Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:15 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Government Whip 11:15 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, not for the first time the noble Lord is miles ahead of me in understanding what I shall say. Of course he is right. Before issuing or revising a code of practice under Clause 44 the Secretary of State is required to consult the information commissioner. The issue is whether anything else needs to be written in. It is perhaps a fine point.

The commissioner has been specified because she has clear statutory duties in the areas to be dealt with in the code. But nothing in the Bill prevents the Secretary of State from consulting whomever he sees fit before issuing or revising a code of practice.

The commissioner can suggest, and may well do so if she feels it necessary, that the Secretary of State consult particular persons or bodies if she sees fit. We do not think that, on balance, the amendment adds anything to the position that already prevails. If the Secretary of State thinks it appropriate to consult more widely than is set out on the face of the Bill he can and will do so.

The noble Lord knew almost everything I would say before I said it.