Freedom of Information and Data Protection

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to information held by public authorities subject to certain exemptions. The House of Commons and the House of Lords are separate public authorities under the Act. They therefore have separate arrangements for complying with the Act.

House of Commons

House of Commons Publication Scheme
Find out what information is already published by the House of Commons and how to how to make a Freedom of Information request.

House of Commons staff guidance for handling requests for information
Guidance on how the House of Commons deals with requests for information.

Request log
See what Freedom of Information requests the House of Commons has received.

House of Lords

The House of Lords Freedom of Information pages contain:

House of Lords Publication Scheme
Access to the House of Lords Publication Scheme, prepared in accordance with s.19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

How to obtain information about the House of Lords
Explains how to make a request for information on the work of the House of Lords

Summary of what the Freedom of Information Act does
Explaining how the Act affects public authorities, such as the House of Lords.

Request Log
See what Freedom of Information requests the House of Lords has received.



What is the Data Protection Act?

The Data Protection Act sets out the rules for processing personal information. It gives certain rights to individuals and it also says that those who record and use personal information must adhere to eight principles. These 'data protection principles' state that data must be:

Requests for personal information

Under the Data Protection Act individuals may ask to see information that is held about them on computer files and on some paper files. A 'subject access' request must be in writing and public authorities may charge £10, but they must be dealt with within 40 days.

The House of Commons, the House of Lords, and Members of Parliament are separate data controllers. Details of the procedures for dealing with subject access requests can be found in the guidance below. Any member of staff who receives such a request should immediately inform their Departmental Data Protection Representative who will provide advice and liaise with the Data Protection Officer. Members of Parliament's offices have their own procedures for dealing with subject access requests.

Requests for information about a person other than the person who has made the request are not subject access requests. These should be considered under the Freedom of Information Act. House of Commons procedures for dealing with these requests can be found on the staff guidance page. Members of Parliament are not subject to the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

Data Protection guidance

House of Commons Data Protection Policy PDF Document

House of Lords Data Protection Policy PDF Document

Advice for Members' offices: Data Protection Act 1998: Personal information about constituents and othersPDF Document

Advice about Disclosures to Members of Parliament carrying out constituency caseworkPDF Document

Library Standard Note: Data Protection: Constituency Casework PDF Document

Related Links

Directgov - Freedom of Information
Information on the Freedom of Information Act and how to make requests from public bodies