Brexit Departments Withholding Information from the Public - People's Vote

Brexit Departments Withholding Information from the Public

Research from the People’s Vote campaign has shown that the public is being kept in the dark by the Government about Brexit with less than a third of all Freedom of Information requests being answered by departments with a direct responsibility for the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Department for Exiting the EU is the worst offender, granting just 23% of resolvable freedom of information requests and fully withholding information in 54% of cases. Only the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, which is not a ministerial department, had a worse record.

The other key Brexit departments are also at the bottom of the table. The Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Trade all granted information in full in reply to less than 30% of resolvable Freedom of Information requests.

Examples of rejected requests over the last three years include requests for:

  • minutes of a meeting between a Brexit minister and chemicals giant Ineos
  • details of what bonuses staff at the Department for International trade were paid
  • information on how much the Foreign Office spends on Brexit related private consultancy.

 

Stephen Doughty MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, a leading supporter of the Peoples Vote Campaign, said:

“It is deeply disturbing that government departments are showing such reluctance to answer basic questions about how they are preparing for Brexit.

 At a time when it is abundantly clear that the UK is not ready for Brexit and a tiny fraction of the public - those who are Conservative Party members – are picking a Prime Minister who seems determined on forcing a disastrous departure on the rest of us, the very least we can expect as citizens is some real information about what is going on.

 “This desire to keep the British people in the dark is part of a systematic failure of our democracy which must underpinned by the principle of informed consent.

“It is another reason why this summer more and more people – whether they voted Remain or Leave in 2016 – will be demanding loud and clear a final say referendum. Now more than ever we need to know what the hell is going on – and we need to make sure our voice is heard.

 

//NOTES TO EDITORS

 Examples of rejected requests:

  • The Brexit Department has refused to release research it commissioned from the National Centre for Social Research, which contained a survey of business opinion on how Brexit will impact their operations, despite holding the documents. REF: DEX001386
  • The Foreign Office has refused to release figures for how much money the Department spends on Brexit advice by private management consultancy firms. This is despite the fact that spending items are classified by purpose in Departments’ records, and other Departments releasing this information. REF: 1144-19
  • The Brexit Department has refused to release documents that the Department transferred £1 million of taxpayers’ money to the Department for International Trade for, citing “professional services”. The reason given was that this would prejudice commercial interests. REF: DEX001473
  • The Brexit Department has refused to release information about a meeting held by Ministers with German politician Edmund Stoiber, former Leader of the German CDU, despite holding the information. REF: DEX001320
  • The Department for International Trade refused to release figures for how much staff were paid in bonuses, despite holding the information and other Departments releasing this information. REF: 03620
  • A request to DExEU for minutes of meetings that took place in 2016 between Robin Walker and Ineos was rejected. REF: FOI2019/01369

The table below shows the number of resolvable requests received, granted and withheld for each government department and body since July 2016. The raw figures can be found online at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/freedom-of-information-statistics-january-to-march-2019 

Government body

Total "resolvable" requests received

Initial Outcome Granted in full

Initial Outcome  Fully withheld

Percentage of resolvable requests granted in full

Percentage of resolvable requests withheld in full

Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills

1111

179

667

16%

60%

Department for Exiting the European Union

1155

263

628

23%

54%

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

2690

627

1069

23%

40%

Department for International Trade

959

243

450

25%

47%

Cabinet Office

2540

683

1460

27%

57%

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

1848

563

776

30%

42%

Serious Fraud Office

373

122

176

33%

47%

Ministry of Justice

9028

3050

4759

34%

53%

Government Legal Department

735

251

349

34%

47%

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

917

315

373

34%

41%

HM Treasury

1710

598

762

35%

45%

Charity Commission

1334

470

494

35%

37%

HM Revenue and Customs

4650

1639

2690

35%

58%

Home Office

7664

2854

3385

37%

44%

Department of Health and Social Care

1659

629

747

38%

45%

Office of Rail and Road

292

112

57

38%

20%

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1324

519

415

39%

31%

Competition and Markets Authority

302

124

129

41%

43%

Crown Prosecution Service

1764

765

815

43%

46%

National Archives

7025

3174

2113

45%

30%

Health and Safety Executive

8318

3889

1973

47%

24%

Rural Payments Agency

453

217

133

48%

29%

Northern Ireland Office

494

238

224

48%

45%

UK Export Finance

205

99

52

48%

25%

Department for International Development

1131

550

427

49%

38%

Ministry of Defence

8516

4227

2208

50%

26%

Food Standards Agency

384

200

87

52%

23%

Debt Management Office

134

71

15

53%

11%

Department for Work and Pensions

10625

5765

4161

54%

39%

Attorney General's Office

389

216

124

56%

32%

Department for Education

4874

2835

1102

58%

23%

Department for Transport

5721

3468

1574

61%

28%

Scotland Office

452

287

99

63%

22%

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets

1243

950

197

76%

16%

HM Land Registry

830

653

82

79%

10%

Wales Office

313

247

53

79%

17%

National Savings and Investments

173

137

15

79%

9%

Water Services Regulation Authority

258

205

10

79%

4%

Office for National Statistics

674

549

59

81%

9%