"Government department" is partially defined in section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act:
|"“government department” includes a Northern Ireland department, the Northern Ireland Court Service and any other body or authority exercising statutory functions on behalf of the Crown, but does not include—
(a) any of the bodies specified in section 80(2),
(b) the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service or the Government Communications Headquarters, or
(c) the Welsh Assembly Government;"
In the above definition the term “body” includes an unincorporated association (Section 34).
Section 81 gives this term some added importance:
|"For the purposes of this Act each government department is to be treated as a person separate from any other government department."|
This means that it's not possible to request from one department information held only by another department, which means that it matters whether something is a department in its own right or merely a part of another department. It also means that requests to different departments can't be aggregated under section 12.
The ICO has declared that DVSA (and by extension all executive agencies) is part of its parent department for FOI purposes.
Is there a list of Government Departments?
A request was made to the Ministry of Justice to provide "the names of all government departments". The response was: "I can confirm that the Ministry of Justice does not hold the information you have requested." . On the other hand, the Cabinet Office has a convenient page on the subject.
- Executive agency
- Ministerial department
- Non-ministerial department
- Government departments (Northern Ireland)
There are also non-departmental public bodies some of which are not subject to the Act.