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Details of MPs' expenses that have not been reimbursed
FOI089
Disclosure Date:19 Nov 2010
Categories: GENERAL EXPENSES ENQUIRY
Exemptions Applied: Section 36
Request

I wish to submit the following FOI request:

Further to Written Answer 14306 published on September 13, 2010, please list the 1,574 claim lines that have been refused and the reason the claim was refused for the period to September 9.

If the time estimated to extract this information would exceed the time limits of the FOI Act, then list as above, working in chronological order, until the limit is reached.

Response

You requested information relating to claim lines not paid for the period to 9 September. Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). I can confirm that IPSA does hold information relevant to your request but that certain information is exempt from disclosure. 

Sir Scott Baker, the member of IPSA designated by the Lord Chancellor as the Qualified Person under s.36(5)(o)(iii) of the Freedom of Information Act, has conducted the public interest balancing exercise in relation to the engagement of the exemption at s.36(2)(c) (prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the Act. It is his opinion that certain forms of adverse effect would or would be likely to follow from a full disclosure of the information you request. 

The information we are disclosing provides you with details of the claims that were not approved for reimbursement. These details are the date of the transaction, the expense category, expenditure type, journey type, length of hotel stays and the reason why the claims were not reimbursed. Please also note that some of the claims not approved for reimbursement may have been overturned on review. The details do not, however, include information that identifies individual Members of Parliament. It is Sir Scott’s opinion that this information is exempt in respect of MPs under s.36(2)(c) of the Freedom of Information Act. 

There is a legitimate interest in the public knowing whose claims were not approved for reimbursement and the reasons why. However, it is also very important and in the public interest that there is a satisfactory and effective working relationship between MPs and IPSA in implementing the new expenses regime. In July IPSA wrote to MPs to the effect that we would not proactively publish details of claims that were not allowed in the period between May and mid-September, in recognition of the need to give MPs time to become accustomed to the new rules and the online expenses system, unless there had been clear attempts to transgress the rules. 

Having made this undertaking, publication of identifiable information in this case would, in Sir Scott’s view, damage the working relationship between MPs and IPSA. Sir Scott has therefore concluded that there is a greater public interest in withholding this information than there is in its release.