Freedom of Information

Members of the public have a right to request access to information held by public authorities. The House of Commons and the House of Lords are separate public authorities. Requests for access to information should be directed to the relevant House which may hold the requested information

Access to information

The right to request access to information is enshrined by three different laws according to the type of information to be accessed.

  • Requests from an individual to look at his or her personal data should be dealt with under the Data Protection Act.
  • Requests for environmental information should be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations. 
  • Any other written request for information should be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.

Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the House of Lords are not public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Information Regulations and are not obliged to respond to requests under these laws.

MPs are subject to the Data Protection Act and requests for your own personal data that is held by an MP should be sent directly to that MP and not to the House of Commons.

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

The House of Commons and the House of Lords are required under the Freedom of Information Act to make information that they hold available to the public.

  1. Information must be made available proactively via publication schemes that have been approved by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
  2. Anyone is entitled to make a request for access to information held by either House that is not already publicly available. The requested information must be disclosed unless an exemption applies.

Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)

Individuals have a right to request access to personal data about themselves under the Data Protection Act (DPA). Such requests will be processed under the Data Protection Act and not the Freedom of Information Act.

The Data Protection Act also requires the Houses to comply with certain principles regarding the way personal data is processed.

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

Members of the public have a right to request access to information about the environment. Such requests will be processed under the Environmental Information Regulations and not the Freedom of Information Act.

Related information

Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner's Office is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. Further information about relevant laws is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

 

Relevant legislation

The official, revised edition of relevant legislation can be found in the UK Statute Law Database through the following links

 

Records Management

Related information

Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner's Office is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information. Further information about relevant laws is available on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

 

Relevant legislation

The official, revised edition of relevant legislation can be found in the UK Statute Law Database through the following links