The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has just issued a Local Government Transparency Code in exercise of his powers under section 2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to issue a Code of Recommended Practice as to the publication of information by local authorities about the discharge of their functions and other matters which he considers to be related.
The Code sets out in some detail in Part 2 the type of information held by local authorities which must be published (some of it annually) and in Part 3 the information which, in the view of the Secretary of State, ought to be published. A helpful Annex A provides the details in tabular form.
Paragraph 14 of the Code provides that: “Where information would otherwise fall within one of the exemptions from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community Regulations 2009 or falls within Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 then it is in the discretion of the local authority whether or not to rely on that exemption or publish the data.” There is therefore no attempt to override the FOIA exemptions. But where a qualified exemption applies, the appearance of the requested information in one of the categories set out in the Code will have a role (possibly a significant role) in establishing the public interest in support of disclosure.