Some months ago we sent a public challenge to Sajid Javid MP, Business Secretary, concerning the government’s bullying of FTSE100 companies into appointing more women onto their boards, despite unequivocal evidence (from longitudinal studies) of a causal link between driving up female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline.
The response from his department was ridiculous in the extreme, and I took many hours to critique it. I included that critique in a letter to DBIS, asking for an internal review. Our blog post with the associated documents is here.
We’ve just received an email with the outcome of that ‘review’. The letter was signed by Samantha Beckett – ‘Sam’ – Director General, Economics & Markets, and she could not have engaged less with the substantive points we’re making. It is nothing short of contemptuous. She repeats some of the points made in previous communications, which we’ve shown to be demonstrably wrong.
She ends the letter with this:
In compliance with the Act, I have conducted an internal review of the original response. In performing that review I have considered whether the original response to your request was correct.
I have carefully considered the scope of material held by the Department (BIS) which potentially falls within the ambit of your request i.e. the “evidence base”. The Act gives you the right to request information held by BIS. BIS is not, however, required to create new information (e.g. by producing new synthesis of reports) in order to answer a request. Nor is it required to reinterpret information which has been published or which it does not hold but which is available commercially elsewhere.
BIS is also not required to release information which will shortly be published if, in the department’s views, the public interest in disclosing the information is outweighed by the public interest considerations in favour of withholding the information.
Having considered the information provided in the response and in the light of your request for an internal review, I have concluded that the response met the requirements of the Act.
We shall be taking the matter to the Information Commissioner, and hope to get some engagement there.