[wdmmg-discuss] HMRC are at their option exempt from Freedom of Information
francis at flourish.org
Wed Jul 14 16:29:19 BST 2010
For a while the idea has been in my mind that the statements of
Government bank accounts would, ultimately, be an excellent way to get
detailed public sector spending information (for WDMMG etc.)
(I think it probably came from Julian Todd originally)
Recently I heard about the Government Banking Service, and so made an
FOI request from HMRC for the most basic of information - a list of
which bodies hold accounts using it.
This is the response I got:
They give several exemptions that only apply to some accounts, but one
odd exemption that applies to all the information that I requested.
This is section 18(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act
2005 (CRCA) (via section 44 (another act prohibits disclosure) of the
"Revenue and Customs officials may not disclose information which
is held by the Revenue and Customs in connection with a function
of the Revenue and Customs."
According to Alex Skene (a WhatDoTheyKnow volunteer), this is exactly
as it appears. A "nuclear option" which lets HMRC refuse any FOI
request it feels like.
No ICO complaint has ever won on this one - here's a list of them that
Alex and other WhatDoTheyKnow volunteers have been keeping.
Alex also says:
CRCA Section 20 does allow for limited public interest disclosure
to various bodies (e.g. police, intelligence bodies, health &
safety etc), but to get it published for any other reason you have
to get the Treasury to issue a relevant Statutory Instrument...
This is problematic, as it means FOI potentially provides no scrutiny
of how our tax is collected.
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