Freedom of information

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The page will automatically redirect to Freedon of Information Research Briefings produced by the Commons Library, Lords Library and POST

Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on freedom of information. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

10.03.2016Freedom of Information: changing the law?
The Independent Commission on Freedom of Information has been reviewing the law on Freedom of Information. Is it fit for purpose? This note looks at the background to the issue, what is proposed and how people have responded.
17.12.2015The Official Secrets Acts and Official Secrecy
This House of Commons Library paper considers the main pieces of legislation in the UK related to official secrecy and the disclosure of information "in the public interest". It focuses in particular on the main pieces of legislation - the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989.
10.11.2015Local government transparency in England
This note provides details of the Code of Recommended Practice on local authority data transparency; the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity; filming and social media use in council meetings; and pay policy statements.
28.05.2015Freedom of Information requests
This note gives a brief summary of the rights in relation to Freedom of Information and includes information about how to make a request, the role of the Information Commissioner and how the Act applies to Parliament.
13.05.2015Freedom of information and the Royal Family
This Note outlines exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act relating to the Royal Family.
20.03.2014FoI and Ministerial vetoes
The Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, issued the first ministerial veto in relation to a FoI request on 23 February 2009 for the contents of the legal advice on military action against Iraq. Two subsequent vetoes were issued protecting communications on devolution issues and a fourth on. A fourth veto was issued on 8 May 2012 blocking the release of the NHS Transitional Risk Register and a fifth in July 2012 blocking extracts from Cabinet minutes on the military action against Iraq in 2003. The most recent, the sixth, was on 16 October 2012, relating to the release of correspondence from Prince Charles to Government departments. This Standard Note traces the history of the veto within FoI legislation and summarises comparative examples abroad.
05.12.2013Intellectual Property Bill [HL]
The Intellectual Property Bill [HL] (Bill 102 of session 2013-14) was introduced into the House of Lords on 9 May 2013, where it received Second Reading on 22 May. It completed its parliamentary stages in the upper house on 30 July and was passed to the Commons, where it received First Reading on 29 August. This Research Paper has been produced to inform the Second Reading debate in the Commons, which is scheduled for 9 December 2013.
04.07.2013Fees for FoI requests
This Note sets out the legal position on charging fees for Freedom of Information requests.
05.12.2012MPs and FoI
Freedom of Information and MPs
26.11.2012The publication of MPs' expenses by IPSA
This Note sets out the background to the information made available by the Commons for Members' allowances paid in the 2005-2010 Parliament. It then outlines IPSA's policy on release of allowances data and the position in the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament.

Lords Library Notes

03.11.2011Protection of Freedoms Bill (HL Bill 99 of 2010-12)
This Library Note provides background information in advance of the Protection of Freedoms Bill's second reading in the House of Lords.


15.07.2014Big Data and Business
POSTnote exploring how big data is being used by UK companies and the challenges and opportunities it presents.
15.07.2014Big Data Overview
This POSTnote gives an overview of big data.

Select Committee Reports

19.12.2011Memorandum to the Justice Select Committee on Post-legislative assessment of the Freedom of Information...
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]
13.10.2009Policing process of Home Office leaks inquiry.
Government response. Home Office; Home Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
09.06.2009Access to EU documents.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
31.03.2009Policing process of Home Office leaks inquiry.
Home Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
03.02.2009The work of the Information Commissioner: appointment of a new Commissioner.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House is concerned by the moral hazard involved in covert surveillance by local councils; regrets that this was enabled and encouraged by the previous Labour Government's ...
That this House believes that all levels of government should be underpinned by the principle of good governance; notes the importance that transparency brings to public accountability ...
That this House notes that section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, as recently interpreted by the Court of Appeal, prevents the Home Office from disclosing all information, ...
That this House notes that section 6 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, with certain exceptions, makes companies wholly owned by the Crown or by a single public authority subject ...
That this House notes the contribution to UK society of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; further notes the importance of public accountability; believes that the public has a right ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses