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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which Minister in his Department is responsible for determining whether exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 should apply to responses to requests for information made under the Act; and which other Minister is responsible for making such determinations should the subject matter of the request fall within the Ministerial responsibilities of the Minister with lead responsibility.
Departmental officials normally determine whether exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 should apply to responses to requests for information under the Act.
However, the exemption under section 36 (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) can only apply if it is the reasonable opinion of a qualified person that the exemption is engaged. In relation to information held by a Government Department like DWP the qualified person must be a Minister.
In such instances officials normally seek the opinion of the Minister responsible for the relevant subject matter.