Freedom of Information

Article Index

Freedom of Information Publication Scheme

1 The Inner Temple and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 covers only that information produced by the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple, and his staff, in his capacity as a local authority. It does not extend to information generated by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple as a private body.

2 The Inner Temple as a local authority
2.1 Historical background

The Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple and the Under-Treasurer of the Middle Temple are designated as local authorities with a status equivalent to the councils of the Inner London Boroughs. Although within the boundaries of the City of London, the Inner and Middle Temple are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Mayor and Corporation of London. They claim this exemption as successors of the Knights Templar, who constructed the Temple Church and surrounding buildings on the site in the twelfth century. By Papal Bull, the Knights Templar were rendered exempt from all civic and ecclesiastical jurisdiction and were answerable only to the Pope. This exemption was also claimed by the Knights Hospitaller, who were granted the Temple Church and surrounding site not long after the abolition of the Knights Templar. On the dissolution of the religious orders under Henry VIII, the Temple reverted to the Crown and continued to be exempt from the jurisdiction of the Mayor and Corporation of London.

The two societies of lawyers who had come to occupy the Temple in the fourteenth century, the Honourable Societies of the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, continued as tenants of the Crown until 13 August 1608 when letters patent of James I conveyed the lands and buildings of the Temple to the two Inns in free and common socage. These letters patent confirmed the Societies' status as liberties.

2.2 Rating powers

Under Victorian legislation (20 Victoria c.19), the Inner and Middle Temple were constituted civil 'parishes' for certain purposes, including poor relief, and were not to form part of any Poor Law Union or District. The Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple and Under-Treasurer of Middle Temple were to act as Overseers of the Poor, but there were no poor rates levied - only a contribution to the common poor law fund made by the Benchers of both Inns. Indeed, no rates were levied by any outside authority on individual tenants of the Inns. The Masters of the Bench acted as rating authorities, paying the amount due to the Corporation of London (e.g. police rate), London County Council, water authorities and other such bodies for contracted services and claiming back contributions from tenants as they saw fit. However, the Inns' rate-raising powers were undermined by the Local Government Finance Act (1988). Although continuing to stress their status as liberties, they agreed that the City Corporation should be the charging authority for the community charge and that the Inns should levy the agreed amounts on tenants.

2.3 Policing

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the Inns undertook their own policing and the City police were excluded from the Inns' precincts, although the Inns did agree to contribute to the City police rate under the City Police Act of 1839. In 1857 the City police were allowed into the Temple and continue to police the precincts to this day in liaison with the Inns' security staff.

2.4 Local authority functions

Under the Temples Order of 1971 the Inner and Middle Temples were defined as local authorities with the same powers and responsibilities as the Inner London boroughs under the London Government Act 1963, except in relation to housing.

For most purposes the Inner Temple is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Common Council of the Corporation of London. However, there are exceptions relating to town planning (including local development plans) and listed historical buildings.


2.5 Delegation of certain local government functions

Under the 1971 Temples Order, the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple and Under Treasurer of the Middle Temple were entitled to delegate the exercise of certain functions to the City Corporation, acting as their agent, for payments to be agreed with the City Corporation. A precedent for this delegation of duties lay in the Patchett Order of 1903. This Court Order, which was later given statutory force, restrained the City Corporation from enforcing the City of London Sewers Acts within the Inner and Middle Temples since they lay outside the City's jurisdiction, provided that the Societies made a voluntary payment to the Corporation lieu of sewer rates.

The 1971 Order specifically provided for the exercise of the following functions by the Common Council of the Corporation of London within 'the Temples' (i.e. the Inner Temple and Middle Temple):

  • matters concerning local authority health, children's and civil defence functions
  • accommodation and welfare of disabled and old persons
  • land drainage, flood protection, sewerage etc [the Temple sewers are private sewers which enter the public sewers outside the boundaries of the Temple]
  • local taxation licences
  • local land charges
  • the Registration Service Act 1953
  • dog licensing
  • food and drugs and milk from diseased cows
  • matters re Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1960 & Matrimonial Act 1965
  • public libraries and museums

Some of these functions no longer apply because of subsequent changes in legislation (for example the abolition of dog licensing) or have been transferred to other bodies (for example the transfer of responsibility for sewerage from the Corporation of London to Thames Water under the Water Act 1973). In recognition of these changes, there was an attempt in the 1980s to introduce a new Temples Order to replace the 1971 Temples Order. However, by 1992 government ministers had decided not to proceed with it.

2.6 Remaining local government functions

The Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple and Under Treasurer of the Middle Temple are currently left to exercise only a small number of local authority functions which include:

  • Environmental protection
  • Licensing (events and liquor)
  • Paving and lighting [although roads within the Temple are classified as private roads]
  • Planning (except development plans and listed buildings)
  • Public health and safety
  • Refuse collection
  • Water supply

Legislation governing these functions includes:

  • The Public Health Acts 1936 & 1961
  • The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984
  • The Water Acts 1945 & 1989
  • The Water Industry Act 1991 (in relation to those local authority functions specified in sections 77 to 85 inclusive)
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (to exercise all the powers contained in sections 20(2), 21,22 & 25)
  • The Agriculture Act 1970
  • The Hydrogen Cyanide (Fumigation of Buildings) Regulations 1951
  • The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended
  • The Food Safety Act 1990
  • The Food and Environment Protection Act part III as amended by the Pesticides (Fees and Enforcement) Act 1989 (in relation to those enforcement powers which may be exercised by an officer of a local authority).
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (in relation to the Joint Statutory Recycling Plan under section 49).
  • Licensing Act 2003

 


3 FOI Publication scheme
3.1 Definition and purpose

Under section 19 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it is the duty of every public authority to produce a publication scheme which outlines the information that the authority publishes or plans to publish (in this context, 'publish' means to make publicly available on a routine basis). The authority also has a duty to inform the public how this information can be accessed and what charges (if any) will be made.

According to section 19(2) of the Act, the publication scheme must:

  1. specify classes of information which the public authority publishes or intends to publish
  2. specify the manner in which information in each class is, or is intended to be, published
  3. specify whether the material is, or is intended to be, available to the public free of charge or on payment
3.2 The Inner Temple publication scheme

In the case of the Inner Temple, the publication scheme relates only to information produced by the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple in his capacity as a local authority and does not extend to information generated by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple as a private body. Since the local government functions are few and in most cases integrally linked with other Inner Temple activities, the Inner Temple publication scheme is more limited than those of other local authorities.

3.3 Access to and charges for information released under FOI act
Information included in publication scheme

Information specified in the publication scheme relating to the Sub-Treasurer's local authority functions will be made available to the public in response to postal or email request or by personal visit. There will be no charge for access to this information although, if relevant, photocopies supplied will incur a charge of 20p per page. For conservation reasons some records may be considered unsuitable for photocopying.

Information not included in publication scheme

From 1 January 2005, the public will have the right to request certain information concerning the Inn's local government functions not already made available through its publication scheme. Requests, which will need to be made in writing, entailing research in the Inn's records by Inner Temple staff, will be charged at rates to be set by the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA). Enquirers should bear in mind that information exempt under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act or the Data Protection Act may not be released.

Photocopying and research charges will be subject to review after 12 months of operation.

3.4 Arrangement of publication scheme

The Inner Temple's publication scheme has been structured in classes which represent the local government responsibilities exercised by the Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple in his capacity as a local authority. In regard to local government functions delegated to the City Corporation under the Temples Order of 1971 (see 2.5 above), enquiries should be made to the Corporation of London

The publication scheme classes are as follows:

  • Environmental protection
  • Licensing (events and liquor)
  • Paving and lighting [although roads within the Temple are classified as private roads]
  • Planning (except development plans and listed buildings)
  • Public health and safety
  • Refuse collection
  • Water supply

 

3.5 Publication scheme
ClassDescriptionManner of accessFee
Environmental protection Information concerning action taken to implement Post/email enquiry see section 3.3
Licensing (events and liquor) Information concerning the application for and granting of licences Post/email enquiry see section 3.3
Paving and lighting Information concerning identity of contractors and annual payments for maintenance and repairs Post/email enquiry see section 3.3
Planning regulations(excluding historic buildings) Information concerning nature of building projects undertaken under planning regulation(excluding costs) Post/email enquiry; or via web-site see section 3.3
Public health and safety Information concerning action taken to implement public health and safety acts Post/email enquiry; or via web-site see section 3.3
Refuse collection Information concerning identity of contractors and annual payments for collection Post/email enquiry; or via web-site see section 3.3
Water supply Information concerning identity of contractors and annual payments for supply and maintenance Post/email enquiry; or via web-site see section 3.3
3.6 Information not covered by the publication scheme

From 1 January 2005, the public will have the right, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, to request information held by a public authority which is not already made available through its publication scheme. Requests will need be made in writing and the local authority should respond to such requests within 20 working days. A charge may be payable for the extraction of information in response to such enquiries (see 3.3 above). Certain information which is exempt under the terms of the Act may not be released. In these circumstances the Inner Temple will endeavour to explain the nature of the exemption.

3.7 Further information and complaints

Any questions, comments or complaints about the publication scheme or access under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 should be addressed in writing initially to the Sub-Treasurer:
Sub-Treasurer
Treasury Office
Inner Temple
London EC4Y 7HL
email: subtreasurer@innertemple.org.uk

If the Inner Temple is unable to resolve a complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, the complaint may be referred to the Information Commissioner at the following address:

Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
email: data@dataprotection.gov.uk

More information about the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is available on the Information Commissioner's web-site: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk