Parliamentary privilege, the FOI exemption
Produced in partnership with Carl Gardner
Parliamentary privilege, the FOI exemption

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Carl Gardner provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Parliamentary privilege, the FOI exemption
  • In brief
  • The section 34 exemption
  • How does Parliamentary privilege relate to freedom of information?
  • Information likely to fall within the exemption
  • Other information covered that public bodies may hold
  • Information not covered by the exemption
  • Correspondence from MPs and members of the House of Lords
  • Conclusive certificates under section 34(3)

In brief

Section 34 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) provides an exemption from the normal section 1 duties—the duty to “confirm or deny” whether information is held, and the duty to provide it—where necessary to avoid a breach of parliamentary privilege. The exemption is absolute, which means there is no public interest test.

The section 34 exemption

“34 Parliamentary privilege.

  1. Information is exempt information if exemption from section 1(1)(b) is required for the purpose of avoiding an infringement of the privileges of either House of Parliament.

  2. The duty to confirm or deny does not apply if, or to the extent that, exemption from section 1(1)(a) is required for the purpose of avoiding an infringement of the privileges of either House of Parliament.

  3. A certificate signed by the appropriate authority certifying that exemption from section 1(1)(b), or from section 1(1)(a) and (b), is, or at any time was, required for the purpose of avoiding an infringement of the privileges of either House of Parliament shall be conclusive evidence of that fact.

  4. In subsection (3) “the appropriate authority” means—

    1. in relation to the House of Commons, the Speaker of that House, and

    2. in relation to the House of Lords, the Clerk of the Parliaments.”

How does Parliamentary privilege relate to freedom of information?

As well as the protection offered by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights

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