You asked

In 2014, the ONS made the decision that Network Rail should be regarded as a public sector organisation for accounting purposes. I would like to request any documentation that demonstrates the process by which the ONS came to this decision, including any consultation performed with public and private sector stakeholders.

We said

Thank you for your enquiry.

Please find all documents considered within scope of the request in the associated downloads. The documents provided demonstrate the process by which the ONS came to its decision to reclassify Network Rail.

Some information has been withheld under s.40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 as it is considered personal information.

Some information has also been withheld under s.36(2)(b)(ii). This exemption states that information is exempt if, in the opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The ability of members of the National Accounts Classification Committee to discharge their responsibilities effectively relies upon them being able to have free and frank discussion regarding classification decisions. It is our view that releasing certain information would, in this instance, limit similar future discussions and the participants' willingness to provide full and frank expert opinions in the future.

The use of the exemption is subject to a public interest test. The main arguments in favour of disclosure are transparency and public accountability; in favour of withholding are ensuring we are able to complete our statistical functions efficiently. By withholding some information, we are ensuring a safe space for current and future discussions and the quality of advice provided in the course of deliberations.