Following is a question by the Hon Audrey Eu and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 9):
Will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of cases in which information was sought from the Government under the Code on Access to Information last year, broken down by the outcome (i.e. the Government provided all the information as requested by the applicant, provided only part of the information sought or refused to provide any information) of these cases; for cases in which information was provided, the average time taken counting from the date on which the information was sought to the date on which the information was provided; and the reasons for the Government to provide only part of the information sought or refused to provide any information in other cases; and
(b) whether it knows the number of complaints relating to the above Code handled by the Office of the Ombudsman in the past three years, the summary and outcome of each of these complaints, and the reasons why the complaints in the cases concerned were unfounded?
(a) In 2007, the Government received 2,537 requests for information under the Code on Access to Information (the Code). Amongst them, 2,235 requests (88 per cent) were met, either in full (2,202 requests) or in part (33 requests), 47 requests (2 per cent) were refused, 105 requests (4 per cent) were subsequently withdrawn by the applicants and the bureaux/departments concerned did not hold the requested information in respect of 86 requests (3 per cent). As at December 31, 2007, 64 requests were still being processed by bureaux/departments. The average time taken to provide the requested information was nine days.
Government bureaux and departments may refuse to disclose 16 categories of information as set out in Part 2 of the Code, a copy of which is at Annex I. The reasons for providing part of the requested information in the 33 cases and refusing to provide the requested information in the 47 cases are set out in Annex II.
(b) During 2005 to 2007, a total of 23 complaints in relation to the Code were lodged with The Ombudsman. Of these 23 cases:
(i) one complaint was substantiated;
(ii) The Ombudsman rendered assistance / provided clarifications to the complainants concerned in respect of 12 cases;
(iii) having considered the circumstances of the cases (including whether there is sufficient prima facie evidence of maladministration), The Ombudsman decided not to conduct investigation into four cases;
(iv) one case was withdrawn by the complainant; and
(v) five cases were still under investigation as at December 31, 2007.
We have not received details of the cases from The Ombudsman. Under Section 15 of The Ombudsman Ordinance (Cap 397), The Ombudsman shall maintain secrecy in respect of all matters that arise from any investigation or complaint made to The Ombudsman.
Ends/Wednesday, April 9, 2008