Please note that from Thursday 7 November 2019, Parliament enters a period of Dissolution, which means it ceases to exist for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In practical terms, responses to FOI requests are suspended until after the House of Commons formally returns – which is a date agreed sometime after the General Election.
Further details about Dissolution and how it affects requests for information may be found on our Dissolution web page.
Formal requests under FOI or EIR are dealt with by the Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service of the House of Commons.
Requests to other teams for day-to-day information may be dealt with on an informal basis in order to provide the best possible service to our customers.
All requests should be dealt with helpfully, promptly, and within 20 working days of receipt.
Requests for information held by MPs
Members of Parliament are not employees of the House of Commons. They are Data Controllers in their own right and are responsible for the information the hold. MPs are not classed as public authorities under the FOI Act. For this reason, MPs are not subject to FOI and they are not obliged to answer requests for information.
Requests for information not held
In 2016, 45% of the requests received by the House of Commons were for information that we do not hold.
Often, this was as a result of people wanting information held by the Government, which is different to the House of Commons. To understand the difference, we recommend that requesters read our web page ‘Parliament and the Government’.
You may also wish to check our section entitled ‘Information not held’ to read about other types of data we do not hold – and why we do not hold it - before you submit a request.
The House of Commons publishes a huge amount of information, and before making a request it is worth checking to see if it isn’t already available. Currently, 1 in 5 requests to the House of Commons are refused because the information is already published.
We publish the responses to FOI requests that provide information in the public interest and/or contain datasets. This information, arranged by topic, is available at House of Commons Disclosures
A full list of all FOI requests and how they were answered is also available at House of Commons request log
There are some types of information which are frequently requested, and to provide better access we regularly publish this data on our Transparency pages.
This information, arranged by topic, is available at House of Commons Transparency Publications
Our Model Publication Scheme
To help locate all the information available from the House of Commons, please refer to our Publication Scheme. This summarises information, published in categories as defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Whilst the following guidance is aimed at staff of the House of Commons, it may also provide useful information for applicants seeking to understand the process that is followed in dealing with requests.