£121,000 excluding VAT, so far, to keep our FOIA request for the Gateway Reviews of the ID Cards Programme secret

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We are still waiting for the Information Tribunal to rule in our favour again, to order the disclosure of the early OGC Gateway Reviews of the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme, over 4 years since we requested them.

The legal cost so far, of over £120,000 is an utter waste of public money.

28 Jan 2009 : Column 505W

Identity Cards: Civil Proceedings

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer of 14 July 2008, Official Report, column 145W, on identity cards, what stage the legal case relating to disclosure of Gateway information has reached; how much the Government have spent to date on legal costs for the case; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the Identity Card Gateway Review, redacting commercially sensitive information. [250192]

N.B. it is very unlikely that there is any "commercially sensitive information" in the pre-Stage Zero and Stage Zero Gateway Reviews, which happen well before any actual commercial procurement starts i.e. well before any invitations to tender or any quotations from potential suppliers has even been asked for, and which are reviewed at Gateway Review Stage 2 and later.

What is missing from these Gateway Reviews is at least as interesting (probably an utter lack of appreciation of the technical security and privacy risks, or any idea about the costs of integration with other Government Departmental and Private Sector computer systems) as what they actually might contain.

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 12 January 2009, Official Report, columns 508-09W. The tribunal has still not issued its decision.

The legal cost incurred, relating to the disclosure of Gateway information on the Identity Cards programme, is currently £121,000 excluding VAT.

Gateway reports, including the findings and status, are conducted on a confidential basis for senior responsible owners (SRO). We do not, therefore, make this information routinely public.

This cost does not include the time of all of the Information Commissioner,'s Office, Home Office, Department for Constitutional Affairs (now the Ministry of Justice) Office for Government Commerce, HM Treasury, Information Tribunal etc. officials who have been involved in this case.

Note the weasel words at the end of the reply, since it would be illegal for the Government to rule out all such disclosures, even though, that is what in fact has happened in every case so far.

The previous Written Answer details the long drawn out current Information Tribunal process:

Written answers
Monday, 12 January 2009

12 Jan 2009 : Column 508W

Disclosure of Information: Identity Cards

Francis Maude (Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office; Horsham, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the status is of the Information Tribunal's consideration of the Appeal by the Office of Government Commerce against the decision notices issued by the Information Commissioner on the disclosure of gateway review documents relating to the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme.

Angela Eagle (Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury; Wallasey, Labour)

I have been asked to reply.

The Information Tribunal first made a decision on this appeal in May 2007, upholding the decision notices of the Information Commissioner requiring the disclosure of the OGC gateway review documents relating to the Home Office's Identity Cards Programme.

In March 2008, this decision was quashed by a High Court ruling, the judge ordering that the appeal should return to a remitted, newly constituted Information Tribunal.

The remitted tribunal sat between the 29 to the 31 October 2008 and heard closing arguments on 10 December 2008, with further written submissions invited from both parties, to be submitted by the 19 December 2008.

The tribunal has indicated that it is likely to release a decision in late January or early February 2009.

1 Comment

Well, no surprises here then. I work closely with the police in a rural area and they think the whole ID card issue is a waste of time and effort. So how this will benefit security is a mystery to me...as it is to them.

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This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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Yes, Minister Series 1, Episode 1, "Open Government" First airtime BBC: 25 February 1980

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Office of the Information Commissioner,
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Scottish Information Commissioner,
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Information Tribunal - deals with appeals against decisions by the Information Commissioners.

Freedom of Information pages - Department for Constitutional Affairs

Friends of the Earth FOIA Request Generator and links to contact details for Central Government Departments and their Publication Schemes

UK Government Information Asset Register - in theory, this should point you to the correct Government documents, but in practice...well see for yourself.

Access all Information is also logging some FOIA requests

foi.mysociety.org - prototype FOIA request submission, tracking and publication website

Blog Links

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Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

Open Secrets - a blog about freedom of information by BBC journalist Martin Rosenbaum

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

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