Amendments to Royal exemption come into force

An Order bringing into force the amendments to the FOI Act’s exemption for communications with the Royal Family that were contained in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act has been made and comes into force today (19 January 2011). This means that from now on information relating to communications with the monarch, the heir to the throne and second in the line to the throne will be subject to an absolute exemption for 20 years or until 5 years after the death of the individual, whichever is later.

In a written ministerial statement, Ken Clarke MP, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, stated:

This amendment to the FOI Act is necessary to protect the long-standing conventions surrounding the monarchy and its records, for example the sovereign’s right and duty to counsel, encourage and warn her Government, as well as the heir to the throne’s right to be instructed in the business of Government in preparation for their future role as monarch. The changes will come into force tomorrow.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information was unhappy at the decision to implement a more restrictive exemption for senior members of the Royal Family. A previous note on the relationship between the Royal Family and FOI before the changes came into force is here.

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010) (Commencement No. 4 and Saving Provision) Order 2011 is here and Explanatory Notes here.

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