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Policy on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records

The Legislative Council passed a resolution at its meeting of 19 March 2014 to amend the Rules of Procedure to set out the following Policy on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records ("the Policy"):

The documents and records of the Legislature (and its committees) in the custody of the Legislative Council Secretariat may be made available for access subject to the following -

(a)if the Legislature (or its committee) considers that any of its documents or records should not be made available for access or prescribes a period for which it should not be made so available, access to the document or record may not be made available until the prescribed period has expired or it has been in existence for 50 years, whichever is shorter;

(b)any such document or record may be made available for access before expiry of the closure period specified in paragraph (a) consequent to a review;

(c)any other document or record of the Legislature (or its committee) may be made available for access at any time but must be made so available when it has been in existence for 20 years; and

(d)access to any document or record or any part of it shall not be made available if such access is prohibited by law.

(Schedule 2 to Rules of Procedures)

Committee on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records

The Legislature has established the Committee on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records ("the Committee) under Rule 74A of the Rules of Procedure to determine whether a document or record of the Legislature (or its committee) should be made available for access earlier than the expiry of the closure period specified in the Policy; set guidelines for implementing the Policy; consider any objection against the denial of access to such a document or record by the Clerk; and consider any other matter relating to or arising from the Policy.

The Committee consists of the President, who shall be the chairman, the chairman and deputy chairman of the House Committee, and not more than 10 other members who shall be elected at a House Committee meeting in such manner as the House Committee may determine.

The terms of reference, membership and the practice of the Committee are set out in Rule 74A of the Rules of Procedure.


Practice and procedure of the Committee on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records

The Committee has considered the following principles to determine its own practice and procedure under Rule 74A(11) of Rules of Procedure to ensure that the public's right to access information of the Legislature would not be unduly undermined:

(a)Transparency: there should be maximum transparency regarding how the Committee determines that a closed document and record should be allowed access but without divulging the information contained therein unless and until the Committee has determined that such document and record may be made available for access;

(b)Efficiency: the Committee should carry out its functions with efficiency and as much expedition as is practicable; and

(c)Consistency: the Committee should be consistent in determining whether to allow access to closed documents and records.

Exempted categories of documents and records of the Legislature

The Committee has adopted the list of exempted categories of documents and records of the Legislature by which an access request to closed documents and records kept by the Legislative Council Secretariat might be refused.


Review of the documents and records of the Legislature

The Legislative Council has authorized the Clerk to the Legislative Council ("the Clerk") under Rule 6(5A) of the Rules of Procedure to conduct the review referred to in paragraph (b) of the Policy above within 25 years of the existence of the document or record as to whether access should be made available at an earlier time, and to conduct a further review of the document or record, if not already made available for public access, at least once every four years from the last review. The Clerk may deny access to a document or record in accordance with any guidelines, including the exempted categories, set by the Committee on Access to the Legislature's Documents and Records ("the Committee"). The list of time-expired documents and records disclosed as at 16 May 2017 is as follows -


Requests for access to the Legislature's documents and records

To enhance the transparency, the Committee will publish the lists of approved and denied access requests onto the Legislative Council Website. The lists showing the position as at 2 June 2017 are as follows -