§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the costs over the last year, for each Government Department, of satisfying requests for access by the public to information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information; what estimate he has made of the costs for each Department over the same length of time of satisfying such requests under his freedom of information proposals; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Dr. David Clark
Costs of dealing with requests under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information are not monitored centrally. Based on experience in my Department an the total number of registered Code requests for 1996 (2033), I estimate that the total cost to Government Departments of operating the Code is in the order of £2 million per annum.
There is no precise method of quantifying the estimated cost of FOI—it will clearly be dependent on the number of requests—but using comparators such as the costs of FOI overseas, the costs of the Code of Practice and the estimated costs of the new Data Protection regime, I estimate that the total public sector costs (including provision for an appeals mechanism) would be £26.5 million 'start-up' costs, and an annual cost of £23.5 million thereafter.
The factual and background information on the development of the White Paper, which I intend to publish shortly, will contain a more detailed account of how these estimates were arrived at.