Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Lords at 2:15 am on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 2:15 am, 7th April 2010

My Lords, we move to Part 12 of the Bill and the Dacre report. In moving from a 30-year to a 20-year rule for the transfer of records to the National Archives and other archives and, in parallel, reducing the period during which certain exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act apply, the Government will be providing earlier access to a significant volume of material.

Of course, it is right that such a move involves careful preparation and is managed with an eye on the cost to the public purse. It is estimated that central government alone holds approximately 2 million paper files between 20 and 30 years old that would need to be reviewed as part of this process. A power is already included in the amendments to the Public Records Act in Clause 85 to allow us properly to prepare for and manage this change. The power is flexible but it is anticipated that two years-worth of records will be transferred to the National Archives or other place of deposit each year during a 10-year transitional period. These amendments to Clause 86 and Schedule 15 create a power to make corresponding transitional arrangements for entry into force of the amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. This is a logical extension.

The transitional provisions, which can be applied for different periods for different types of record, are needed because large volumes of requests for some information over 20 years old are anticipated. A gradual reduction would help us properly to manage the resource burden resulting from the changes to the Freedom of Information Act. I beg to move.

Amendment 148 agreed.

Clause 86, as amended, agreed.

Schedule 15 : Amendments of Freedom of Information Act 2000

Amendments 149 and 150 not moved.

Amendments 151 and 152

Moved by Lord Bach

151: Schedule 15, page 132, line 15, leave out "In section 62(1)" and insert-

"(1) Section 62 (interpretation of Part 6) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)"

152: Schedule 15, page 132, line 16, at end insert-

"(3) After subsection (2) insert-

"(2A) Until the end of the period of 10 years beginning with the commencement of paragraph 4 of Schedule 15 to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, subsection (1) has effect subject to any order made under section 86(2) of that Act.""

Amendments 151 and 152 agreed.

Schedule 15, as amended, agreed.

Clause 87 agreed.

Amendment 153 not moved.

Clauses 88 and 89 disagreed.

Clause 90 : Parliamentary elections: counting of votes

Amendment 154 not moved.

Clause 90 agreed.

Clause 91 disagreed.

Amendment 155

Moved by Lord Ramsbotham

155: After Clause 91, insert the following new Clause-

"Prisoner voting rights

Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 is omitted."