Information Commissioner's Office instructs Home Office to provide Syrian refugee data
26 May 2016
The Home Affairs Committee submitted an FOI (freedom of information) request to the Home Office on 7 April 2016 in an attempt to uncover the number of Syrian refugees settled in each local authority area, since the Prime Minister's September 2015 announcement that 20,000 Syrian refugees would be settled in the UK by 2020.
Six weeks after the original request – the time limit for replying is 20 days – the Home Affairs Committee had still not received any response from the Home Office, and asked for the Information Commissioner's (ICO) assistance in getting the Home Office to comply with FOI procedures.
The ICO has now given the Home Office "a short deadline within which to respond to this request". If no response is provided within that timeframe, the ICO will issue a legally binding decision notice obliging the Home Office to respond to the Committee's request.
Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, said:
"This is the first time that the Home Affairs Select Committee has needed to resort to a freedom of information request from the Home Office. Surely this is such a successful policy for the government, I would have thought they would be more open and transparent.
Since the Minister for Syrian Refugees first appeared before the Committee, it has been like drawing teeth to get basic information about any aspect of the commitment to settle these 20,000 people in the UK.
The failure to provide this information is obstructing Parliament's scrutiny of a major initiative of significant public interest, and we will continue to demand answers."