Valuation Office Agency and Open Government Licence

FOI request reference: F0049624
Publication date: August 2017

Request

The Valuation Office Agency says that it has an exemption from the terms of the Open Government Licence for its raw valuation data for non-domestic premises.

I’d be grateful if you would provide, electronically and to this email address, the following
1. all correspondence between the National Archives and the VOA about this topic;
2. any internal assessment of the merits of VOA’s case; and
3. a list of all such exemptions made by the National Archives that are currently in force.

Outcome

Partially successful

Response

I can confirm that The National Archives (TNA) holds information relevant to your request and we are pleased to be able to provide some of this information to you below and in the two attached PDFs.

Q1. all correspondence between the National Archives and the VOA about this topic;
Q2. any internal assessment of the merits of VOA’s case;

Please see the two attached PDFs. The first contains all the correspondence between TNA and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on this topic; the second contains the four document attachments from the correspondence.

We are unable to provide you with some of the information you have requested because it is covered by the exemption at section 40 (2) of the FOI Act. Section 40 (2) exempts personal information about a ‘third party’ (someone other than the requester), if revealing it would break the terms of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. This information has therefore been redacted from the attached PDFs.

In this case the exemption applies because the information contains the names, positions, and contact details of junior officials. Releasing personal information about junior members of staff, who have not given express permission, would be deemed to be unfair, as there is no expectation that this information would be released into the public domain. This would be unlawful under the DPA as it would be in breach of one or more of the Data Protection Principles and, under section 40 (2) of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to provide information that is the personal information of another person if releasing would contravene any of the provisions in the DPA.

It is standard practice to withhold the names of officials below Senior Civil Service level. However, to aid transparency of how our organisation is structured and run, TNA publishes the names of senior staff members (Heads of Department) on our website. Therefore, we have included the names of all staff whose details are already published, in relation to the role they hold, and all those below senior management have been redacted from the attached documents.

Further guidance on section 40 (2) and guidance on the personal data of public authority employees can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website.

Q3. a list of all such exemptions made by the National Archives that are currently in force.

The VOA has a statutory duty to make non-domestic rating lists available. This is done in accordance with statute rather than under the terms of the Open Government Licence.  Accordingly, VOA does not rely on an exemption from TNA and we do not have a list of other such “exemptions”. Therefore, TNA does not hold this information.

The information you have been supplied with may contain some personal information about third parties that falls within the scope of the DPA 1998. The DPA regulates the processing of information relating to identifiable living individuals and this includes the use, disclosure, or publication of such information. You are therefore reminded that your use of this information must comply with the terms of the DPA. For further guidance see the ICO website.

Attachment 1: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/F0049624-valuation-office-agency-and-open-government-licence-attachment-1.pdf

Attachment 2: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/F0049624-valuation-cffice-agency-and-open-government-licence-attachment-2.pdf