This Act applies to CHCs and to community health committees the provisions of sections 100A to 100D, 100H and Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972. These provisions were inserted into the 1972 Act by the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1975.

Section 1

(1) Sections 100A to 100D of the Local Government Act 1972 shall apply to a CHC established in accordance with section 20 of the NHS Act 1977 as they apply to a principal council within the meaning of part VA of the said Act of 1972 but subject to …modifications.

(2) Those sections of the said Act of 1972 shall apply also in relation to a community health committee as they apply to a principal council within the meaning of part VA of that Act but subject to …further modifications.

The text which follows attempts to apply the modifications specified by the 1988 Act and notes the further modifications in respect of community health committees.

(3) In this section “community health committee” means a committee appointed by a Community Health Council or a joint committee appointed by two or more such Councils and “constituent Council”, in relation to such a committee means the Council or Councils by whom the committee was appointed.

Access to meetings and documents

100A – (1) A meeting of a principal council shall be open to the public except to the extent that they are excluded (whether during the whole or part of the proceedings) under subsection (2) below or by resolution under subsection (4) below.

(2) The public shall be excluded from a meeting of a principal council during an item of business whenever it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that, if members of the public were present during that item, confidential information would be disclosed to them in breach of the obligation of confidence; and nothing in this Part shall be taken to authorise or require the disclosure of confidential information in breach of the obligation of confidence.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) above, “confidential information” means –

(a) information furnished to the council by a Government department upon terms (however expressed) which forbid the disclosure of the information to the public; and

(b) information the disclosure of which to the public is prohibited by or under any enactment or by the order of a court:

There seems to be no requirement that the Government Department furnishing confidential information to the CHC justify its confidentiality. If confidential information as here defined is to be discussed the Council must exclude the public, and without the resolution procedure described below, which applies to exempt information, as defined in Schedule 12A.

(4) A principal council may by resolution exclude the public from a meeting during an item of business whenever it is likely, in view of the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during that item there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as defined in section 100I below.

Section 100I does not apply to CHCs. It details how schedule 12A is to apply and empowers the Secretary of State to amend it by statutory instrument. The same schedule, with modifications, is applied to CHCs by section 1(6) of the 1988 Act.

(5) A resolution under subsection (4) above shall –

(a) identify the proceedings, or the part of the proceedings to which it applies and

(b) state the description, in terms of Schedule 12A to this Act, of the exempt information giving rise to the exclusion of the public

and where such a resolution is passed this section does not require the meeting to be open to the public during proceedings to which the resolution applies.

(6) The following provisions shall apply in relation to a meeting of a principal council, that is to say –

(a) public notice of the time and place of the meeting shall be given by posting it at the offices of the council three clear days at least before the meeting or, if the meeting is convened at shorter notice, then at the time it is convened;

(b) while the meeting is open to the public, the council shall not have power to exclude members of the public from the meeting; and

(c) while the meeting is open to the public, duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending the meeting for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not under the control of the council or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expenses.

Section 6(a) shall be taken as having been complied with in relation to a community health committee if the notice is given by posting it at the time mentioned at the offices of every constituent Council and, if the meeting of the committee is to be held at premises other than the offices of such a Council, at those premises. For the purposes of section 6(c) premises under the control of a constituent Council shall be treated as belonging to the committee.

(7) Nothing in this section shall require a principal council to permit the taking of photographs of any proceedings, or the use of any means to enable persons not present to see or hear any proceedings (whether at the time or later), or the making of any oral report on any proceedings as they take place.

(8) This section is without prejudice to any power of exclusion to suppress or prevent disorderly conduct or other misbehaviour at a meeting.

This section appears to give newspaper journalists the right to file copy, but no rights to broadcasters to record or film proceedings.

“Information” includes an expression of opinion, any recommendations and any decision taken (s. 100K of the 1972 Act)

.it would be good practice and in keeping with the spirit of the Act if as much notice as possible were given. (EL(89)P/30

Access to agenda and connected reports

100B – (1) Copies of the agenda for a meeting of a principal council and, subject to subsection (2) below, copies of any report for the meeting shall be open to inspection by members of the public at the offices of the council in accordance with subsection (3) below.

In relation to a community health committee for the purposes of this section and sections 100C(1) and 100D(1) below offices of any constituent Council shall be treated as offices of the committee. EL(89)P/30 advises that “In general the public and the media should be given access to all papers which are likely to be discussed at a meeting of the CHC, its committee or joint committee.

 (2) If the proper officer thinks fit, there may be excluded from the copies of reports provided in pursuance of subsection (1) above the whole of any report which, or any part which, relates only to items during which, in his opinion, the meeting is likely not to be open to the public.

In relation to a community health committee for the purposes of this section and sections 100C and 100D below the proper officer shall be a person appointed for the purpose by a constituent Council.

(3) Any document which is required by subsection (1) above to be open to inspection shall be so open at least three clear days before the meeting, except that –

(a) where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, the copies of the agenda and reports shall be open to inspection from the time the meeting is convened, and

(b) where an item is added to an agenda copies of which are open to inspection by the public, copies of the item (or of the revised agenda), and the copies of any report for the meeting relating to the item, shall be open to inspection from the time the item is added to the agenda; but nothing in this subsection requires copies of any agenda, item or report to be open to inspection by the public until copies are available to members of the council.

(4) An item of business may not be considered at a meeting of a principal council unless either –

(a) a copy of the agenda including the item (or a copy of the item) is open to inspection by members of the public in pursuance of subsection (1) above for at least three clear days before the meeting or, where the meeting is convened at shorter notice, from the time the meeting is convened; or

(b) by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.

Without a definition of what constitutes an item of business this provision has little force. Agendas regularly contain reports from officers under which almost any item could be raised.

(5) Where by virtue of subsection (2) above the whole or any part of a report for a meeting is not open to inspection by the public under subsection (1) above –

(a) every copy of the report or of the part shall be marked “Not for publication”; and

(b) there shall be stated on every copy of the whole or any part of the report the description, in terms of Schedule 12A to this Act, of the exempt information by virtue of which the council are likely to exclude the public during the item to which the report relates.

(6) Where a meeting of a principal council is required by section 100A above to be open to the public during the proceedings or any part of them, there shall be made available for the use of members of the public present at the meeting a reasonable number of copies of the agenda and, subject to subsection (8) below, of the reports for the meeting.

(7) There shall, on request and on payment of postage or other necessary charge for transmission, be supplied for the benefit of any newspaper –

(a) a copy of the agenda for a meeting of a principal council and, subject to subsection (8) below, a copy of each of the reports for the meeting;

(b) such further statements or particulars, if any, as are necessary to indicate the nature of the items included in the agenda; and

(c) if the proper officer thinks fit in the case of any item, copies of any other documents supplied to members of the council in connection with the item.

(8) Subsection (2) above applies in relation to copies of reports provided in pursuance of subsection (6) or (7) above as it applies in relation to copies of reports provided in pursuance of subsection (1) above.

“Newspaper” includes (a) a news agency which systematically carries on the business of selling and supplying reports or information to newspapers; and (b) any organisation which is systematically engaged in collecting news (i) for sound or television broadcasts or (ii) for programmes to be included in a cable programme service which is or does not require to be licensed.

“copy”, in relation to any document, includes a copy made from a copy.(section 100K)

“The proper officer” in this and the following sections shall be a person appointed for the purpose by the CHC.

After meetings

100C – (1) After a meeting of a principal council the following documents shall be open to inspection by members of the public at the offices of the council until the expiration of the period of three years beginning with the date of the meeting, namely –

(a) the minutes, or a copy of the minutes, of the meeting, excluding so much of the minutes of proceedings during which the meeting was not open to the public as discloses exempt information;

(b) where applicable, a summary under subsection (2) below;

(c) a copy of the agenda for the meeting; and

(d) a copy of so much of any report for the meeting as relates to any item during which the meeting was open to the public.

(2) Where, in consequence of the exclusion of parts of the minutes which disclose exempt information, the document open to inspection under subsection (1)(a) above does not provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record of the whole or part of the proceedings, the proper officer shall make a written summary of the proceedings or the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information.

Inspection of background papers

100D – (1) Subject, in the case of section 100C(1), to subsection (2) below, if and so long as copies of the whole or part of a report for a meeting of a principal council are required by section 100B(1) or 100C(1) above to be open to inspection by members of the public –

(a) copies of a list, compiled by the proper officer, of the background papers for the report or the part of the report, and

(b) at least one copy of each of the documents included in that list,

shall also be open to their inspection at the offices of the council.

(2) Subsection (1) above does not require a copy of the list, or of any document included in the list, to be open to inspection after the expiration of the period of two years beginning with the date of the meeting.

(3) Where a copy of any of the background papers for a report is required by subsection (1) above to be open to inspection by members of the public, the copy shall be taken for the purposes of this Part to be so open if arrangements exist for its production to members of the public as soon as is reasonably practicable after the making of a request to inspect the copy.

(4) Nothing in this section –

(a) requires any document which discloses exempt information to be included in the list referred to in subsection (1) above; or

(b) without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2) of section 100A above, requires or authorises the inclusion in the list of any document which, if open to inspection by the public, would disclose confidential information in breach of the obligation of confidence, within the meaning of that subsection.

(5) For the purposes of this section the background papers for a report are those documents relating to the subject matter of the report which –

(a) disclose any facts or matters on which, in the opinion of the proper officer, the report or an important part of the report is based, and

(b) have, in his opinion, been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report, but do not include any published works.

(2) Those sections of the said Act of 1972 shall apply also to a community health committee as they apply to a principal council within the meaning of Part VA of that Act but subject to… modifications, namely –

(a) section 100A(6) shall be taken to have been complied with if the notice is given by posting it at the time there mentioned at the offices of every constituent Council and if the meeting of the committee is to be held at premises other than the offices of such a Council, at those premises;

(b) for the purposes of section 100A(6)(c), premises under the control of a constituent Council shall be treated as belonging to the committee;

(c) for the purposes of sections 100B(1), 100C(1) and 100D(1), offices of any constituent Council shall be treated as offices of the committee; and

(d) the proper officer, for the purposes of sections 100B, 100C and 100D, shall be a person appointed for the purpose by the constituent Council.

(3) In this section ” community health committee ” means a committee appointed by a CHC or a joint committee appointed by two or more such Councils and “constituent Council”, in relation to such a committee, means the Council or Councils by whom the committee was appointed.

Any sort of regional meeting of CHCs would appear to fall within this definition.

(4)In section 100H of the said Act of 1972 –

(a) any reference to any provision of Part VA of that Act or to any right conferred by that Part includes a reference to any such provision as it applies by virtue of this section or, as the case may be, to any right conferred by that Part as it so applies;

(b) in subsection (2)(b) as it so applies the reference to supplying a copy shall be construed as supplying a copy before the end of the period of three days beginning with the period of three days beginning with the day on which the copy is requested;

(c) omitted

(d) omitted

Supplemental provisions and offences.

100H – (1) A document directed by any provision of this Part to be open to inspection shall be so open at all reasonable hours and –

(a) in the case of a document open to inspection by virtue of section 100D(1) above, upon payment of such reasonable fee as may be required for the facility; and

(b) in any other case, without payment.

(2) Where a document is open to inspection by a person under any provision of this Part, the person may, subject to subsection (3) below –

(a) make copies of or extracts from the document, or

(b) require the person having custody of the document to supply to him a photographic copy of or of extracts from the document,

upon payment of such reasonable fee as may be required for the facility.

The reference to supplying a copy shall be construed as supplying a copy before the end of the period of three days beginning with the day on which the copy is requested.

(3) Subsection (2) above does not require or authorise the doing of any act which infringes the copyright in any work except that, where the owner of the copyright is a principal council, nothing done in pursuance of that subsection shall constitute an infringement of the copyright.

(4) If, without reasonable excuse, a person having the custody of a document which is required by section 100B(1) or 100(C) above to be open to inspection by the public –

(a) intentionally obstructs any person exercising a right conferred by this Part to inspect, or to make a copy of or extracts from, the document, or

(b) refuses to furnish copies to any person entitled to obtain them under any provision of this Part,

he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.

(5) Where any accessible document for a meeting to which this subsection applies –

(a) is supplied to, or open to inspection by, a member of the public, or

(b) is supplied for the benefit of any newspaper, in pursuance of section 100B(7) above,

the publication thereby of any defamatory matter contained in the document shall be privileged unless the publication is proved to be made with malice.

This section applies to any meeting of a Community Health Council or a community health committee and protects both members and newspapers (but not, apparently, broadcasters) from actions for libel unless malice is proved.

(6) Subsection (5) above applied to any meeting of a principal council and any meeting of a committee or sub-committee of a principal council; and, for the purposes of that subsection, the “accessible documents” for a meeting are the following –

(a) any copy of the agenda or of any item included in the agenda for the meeting;

(b) any such further statements or particulars for the purpose of indicating the nature of any item included in the agenda as are mentioned in section 100B(7)(b) above;

(c) any copy of a document relating to such an item which is supplied for the benefit of a newspaper in pursuance of section 100B(7)(c) above;

(d) any copy of the whole or part of a report for the meeting

(e) any copy of the whole or part of any background papers for a report for the meeting, within the meaning of section 100D above.

(7) The rights conferred by this Part to inspect, copy and be furnished with documents are in addition, and without prejudice, to any such rights conferred by or under any other enactment.

(5) The power conferred on the Secretary of State by section 100I(2) of that Act to vary schedule 12A to that Act shall include power to vary that Schedule as it applies by virtue of this section.

(6) amends the Schedule

SCHEDULE 12A

ACCESS TO INFORMATION: EXEMPT INFORMATION

PART 1 DESCRIPTIONS OF EXEMPT INFORMATION

1. Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular office-holder, former office-holder or applicant to become an office-holder under the authority or any Health Authority within whose area the authority exercises functions or any National Health Service trust which is established under Part 1 of the National Health service and Community Care Act 1990 and carries on any of its activities from premises in the area of the authority or any regional health authority or district health authority within whose region or district the authority exercises functions.

2. Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular officer, former officer or applicant to become an officer appointed by –

(a) a magistrates’ court committee, within the meaning of section 19 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1979; or

(b) a probation committee appointed under paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973.

3. Information relating to any particular occupier or former occupier of, or applicant for, accommodation provided by or at the expense of the authority.

4. Information relating to any particular applicant for, or recipient or former recipient of, any service provided by the authority.

5. Information relating to any particular applicant for, or recipient or former recipient of, any financial assistance provided by the authority.

6. Information relating to the adoption, care, fostering or education of any particular child.

6A. Information relating to the physical or mental health of any particular person.

6B. Information relating to

a) any particular person who is or was formerly included in a list of persons undertaking to provide services under Part II of the NHS Act 1977 or is an applicant for inclusion in such a list; or

b) any particular employee of such a person

7. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (other than the authority),

8. The amount of any expenditure proposed to be incurred by the authority under any particular contract for the acquisition of property or the supply of goods or services.

9. Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services.

10. The identity of the authority (as well as of any other person, by virtue of paragraph 7 above ) as the person offering any particular tender for a contract for the supply of goods or services.

11. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office-holders under, the authority.

12. Any instructions to counsel and any opinion of counsel (whether or not in connection with any proceedings) and any advice received, information obtained or action to be taken in connection with –

(a) any legal proceedings by or against the authority, or

(b) the determination of any matter affecting the authority,

(whether, in either case, proceedings have been commenced or are in contemplation)

13. Information which, if disclosed to the public, would reveal that the authority proposes –

(a) to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements are imposed on a person; or

(b) to make an order or direction under any enactment.

14. Any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.

15. The identity of a protected informant.

The schedule as a whole is taken from the 1985 Act with the addition of paragraphs 6A and 6B and some minor amendments.

 PART II Qualifications

1. Information relating to a person of a description specified in any of paragraphs 1 to 5 or 6B or Part I above is not exempt information by virtue of that paragraph unless it relates to an individual of that description in the capacity indicated by the description.

2. Information falling within paragraph 7 of Part I above is not exempt information by virtue of that paragraph if it is required to be registered under –

(a) the Companies Act 1985;

(b) the Friendly Societies Act 1974;

(c) the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 to 1978;

(d) the Building Societies Act 1962; or

(e) the Charities Act 1960.

3. Information falling within paragraph 8 of Part I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the amount there referred to would be likely to give an advantage to a person entering into, or seeking to enter into, a contract with the authority in respect of the property, goods or services, whether the advantage would arise as against the authority or as against other such persons.

4. Information falling within paragraph 9 of Part I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the terms would prejudice the authority in those or any other negotiations concerning the property or goods or services.

5. Information falling within paragraph 11 of Part I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public of the information would prejudice the authority in those or any other consultations or negotiations in connection with a labour relations matter arising as mentioned in that paragraph.

6. Information falling within paragraph 13 of Part I above is exempt information if and so long as disclosure to the public might afford an opportunity to a person affected by the notice, order or direction to defeat the purpose or one of the purposes for which the notice, order or direction is to be given or made.

PART III INTERPRETATION

 1. – (1) In this Schedule –

‘child’ means a person under the age of eighteen years and any person who has attained that age and –

(a) is registered as a pupil at a school; or

(b) is the subject of a care order, within the meaning of

section 20 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969;

‘disposal’, in relation to property, includes the granting of an interest in or right over it;

’employee’ means a person employed under a contract of service;

‘financial or business affairs’ includes contemplated, as well as past or current, activities;

‘labour relations matter’ means –

(a) any of the matters specified in paragraphs (a) to (g) of section 29(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 (matters which may be the subject of a trade dispute, within the meaning of that Act); or

(b) any dispute about a matter falling within paragraph (a) above;

and for the purposes of this definition the enactments mentioned in paragraph (a) above, with the necessary modifications, shall apply in relation to office-holders under the authority as they apply in relation to employees of the authority;

‘office-holder’, in relation to the authority, means the holder of any paid office appointments to which are or may be made or confirmed by the authority or by any joint board on which the authority is represented or by any person who holds any such office or is an employee of the authority;

‘protected informant’ means a person giving the authority information which tends to show that –

(a) a criminal offence,

(b) a breach of statutory duty,

(c) a breach of planning control, as defined in section 87(3) or the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or

(d) a nuisance,

has been, is being or is about to be committed;

‘tender for a contract’ includes a written statement prepared by the authority in pursuance of section 9(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 (estimated cost of carrying out functional work by direct labour).

Any reference in the schedule to “the authority” shall be construed as a reference to the Community Health Council and to a community health committee.

(7)provides that the provisions of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, which are similar to these, do not apply to CHCs by virtue of section 1(7) of this Act, which effectively replaces its provisions in respect of CHCs with effect from 1.4.89.

Section 2  Access to information relating to members of Community Health Councils

(1) A Community Health Council shall maintain a register containing the name and address of every member of the Council and of every committee appointed by the Council whether alone or jointly with another Council and stating in the case of each member of the Council

a) the name and address of the body which appointed him;

b) whether or not he is a member of that body; and

c) in the case of a member appointed by a voluntary organisation (within the meaning of the NHS Act 1977), that he has been so appointed.

(2) A written summary of the rights

a) to attend meetings of a Community Health Council and community health committee, and

b) to inspect and copy and be furnished with documents relating to such a Council or committee

which are for the time being conferred by virtue of Section 1 above shall be kept at the offices of each such Council.

(3)The register maintained by a Council under subsection (1) above and the summary kept by it under subsection (2) above shall be open to inspection by the public at all reasonable hours and without payment at the offices of the Council, and any person may, on payment of such reasonable fee as the Council may determine

a) make copies of or extracts from any such register or summary kept by it; and

b) require the Council to supply him before the end of the period of three days beginning with the day on which the request is made with a photographic copy of or extracts from any such register or summary.

A suggested summary of public and media rights for use by CHCs is included as annex C to circular EL(89)P/30.

Section 3  Short title, commencement and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Community Health Councils (Access to Information) Act 1988.

(2) This Act shall come into force on 1st April 1989

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