I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 to 195, inclusive, together.
Since the commencement of the Act my Department has received in excess of 3,000 requests for access to records. Applying the provisions of the Act, it has been possible to release records in 1,400 of these cases. Many of the refusals relate to records not held by the Department or to records covered by legal professional privilege, commercial sensitivity, and Cabinet confidentiality. Up to December 2002, 41 decisions in all have been appealed to the Information Commissioner, of which less than a quarter have led to the release of additional records.
The Deputy asks for examples where disclosures under the Act have proved injurious to the public interest and whether these disclosures were made by my Department or the Information Commissioner. It is not the practice to monitor the outcome of specific disclosures under the Act and such an assessment would present many difficulties. However, I am not aware of any case where disclosure by either office has had a significant negative impact on the public interest.