8.94 Ministers and officials interact with select committees as part of ministerial accountability to the House. Select committees have the right to request information from Ministers or agencies under the Standing Orders (see the section entitled “Powers of Committees” in the chapter on select committees). Ministers and their officials are expected to meet requests from committees to produce documents and to provide information, unless it is not in the public interest to do so.
8.95 Occasionally information requested by a select committee may be classified, or there may be a good reason to protect it from public release. While the Official Information Act 1982 specifies interests that may usefully inform a decision by officials not to release information to a committee, the Act itself does not bind or constrain the House and its committees, and any response declining to provide the requested information should not imply that it does.
8.96 On learning the reason why particular information needs to be protected, the select committee may choose to waive its request or consider a compromise option, such as a summary of the information requested. Officials should consult the relevant Minister, who is ultimately responsible for the release of information by officials to select committees.
8.97 Further guidance on this issue is provided by the Public Service Commission in Officials and Select Committees - Guidelines.