Request for information - FOI14556
Thank you for your email of 1 June, requesting the following information from Ordnance Survey under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000:
- A copy of any register of gifts or hospitality registers held by the department for each of the following financial years: 2014/15, 2013/14, 2012/13.
- If you already publish these please provide any unpublished hospitality or gift registers.
I would like to receive this information electronically, preferably as a data set, eg. in Excel, NOT as a PDF.
If some parts of this request are easier to answer than others, I would ask that you release the available data as soon as possible.
We wrote to you on the 25 June explaining that the information you requested is not held in your preferred format as a dataset but as separate pdfs. We asked you to confirm whether or not you would like all of the nil returns for each of the financial period however we have not received such confirmation from you and therefore assume you do not wish to see the nil return registers.
As set out in our letter dated 25 June, it was necessary in this instance to extend our response deadline to 27 July 2015 in order to consider the Public Interest test in relation to section 43(2), in relation to information the release of which appears likely to prejudice either the commercial interests of the third parties or Ordnance Survey.
I confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold the information requested. Please find attached in pdf files the gifts and hospitality registers for the financial years 2012/13. (Please note: this file is omitted from this published response, but available upon request).However, we will not be releasing all the information to you as we consider some of the information to be exempt from disclosure under section 43(2) (commercial interests) and section 40 (personal information) of the FOIA. This is detailed below. We have redacted the information on the registers where the exemption applies.
Section 43(2) of the FOIA
The Information Commissioner recognises that some public authorities are permitted to engage in commercial activities and that information held in relation to these will fall within the scope of Section 43(2).
We consider that the exemption under Section 43(2) applies because the market sector in which Ordnance Survey operates is highly competitive and the disclosure of certain information undermines the organisation’s market position and would be detrimental to Ordnance Survey’s or third parties commercial interests.
Public Interest Test
Section 43(2) is a qualified exemption and we are required to consider the public interest. Ordnance Survey recognises the need for transparency; however, this has to be balanced against the public interest in allowing the organisation and third parties to protect its commercial information.
Private sector bodies operating in the same market as Ordnance Survey are not bound by the FOIA and are therefore not disadvantaged or placed in less favourable position by the potential disclosure of similar commercial information.
Consequently, we are satisfied that there is greater public interest in withholding certain information under this exemption
Section 40 of the FOIA
We have also redacted the names of specific individuals and signatures from the gifts and hospitality registers where we consider this information to be exempt under Section 40(2) ‘Personal Information’.
Section 40 (2) (a) and (b), together with the condition under section 40 (3) (a) (i) of the FOIA, provides an absolute exemption, where the disclosure of information would contravene any of the data protection principles under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. In this case, we have exempt information constituting the personal data of living individuals, the release of which would be in breach of the Data Protection Principles.
In applying this exemption, we have considered whether disclosure of the personal data in question would be 'fair' (as described in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act). We have given particular consideration to the likely expectations of the data subjects regarding the disclosure of their personal information, whether they are already publicly referenced through their position and if they would expect to be publicly referenced in this manner, in reaching our decision to withhold this information.
I hope the above is of use to you.
Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:
FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
- Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:
- Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
- Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
- Failed to provide the information you have requested
- Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
- Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception
The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.
The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.
Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:
The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.
Thank you for your enquiry.