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Correspondence relating to the decision to launch IPSA and Scheme reviews
FOI2011-001
Disclosure Date:10 Mar 2011
Categories: CORRESPONDENCE IPSA - POLICY
Exemptions Applied: Section 36
Request

Under the Freedom of Information act 2000, I request access to and copies of all documents, including emails, meeting reports, minutes, emails and official communications relating to

  • The decision to  launch an organisational review and a review of the expenses scheme for hon. Members.
  • I would like the response to include details of discussions leading to the establishment of both reviews, and representations received before and since from all interested parties.
Response

In a letter of 1 February you were provided with two published letters from Andrew McDonald, dated 3 September 2010 and 9 November 2010. You were also advised at the time that we were extending the 20 working day timeframe. This was to enable the Qualified Person as designated by the Lord Chancellor under s.36(5)(o)(iii) to assess whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighed the public interest in disclosure in relation to the s.36 exemption.

The Qualified Person has conducted the public interest balancing exercise in relation to the engagement of the exemptions at s.36(2)(b) (inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) and  s.36(2)(c) (prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the Act.

We acknowledge that as a publicly funded body IPSA is accountable for the decisions it makes. It is important therefore that a robust, decision-making process underpins the decisions made by IPSA. Disclosure of the information may provide some insight into the deliberations that have taken place in the decision-making process. It may also assist in proving greater transparency and lead to increased public engagement in the process.

For this reason, the Qualified Person is of the opinion that some of the information you request is not exempt under the Act and should be disclosed.

Please find attached the following documents:

  • Policy Team notes and proposal paper for the annual review.
  • Agenda and paper for the Senior Leadership Team meeting and covering email.
  • Terms of Reference for the organisational review and covering email.
  • Organisational review update paper and covering email.
  • Email correspondence discussing the organisational review.
  • Board Paper, dated 15 April 2010.
  • Board Paper, dated August 2010.
  • Board Paper, dated August 2010.
  • Board Paper, dated 14 September 2010.
  • Board Paper, dated 14 October 2010.
  • Board Paper, dated November 2010.
  • Minutes of the IPSA Board Meeting, dated 23 August 2010.
  • Minutes of the IPSA Board Meeting, dated 21 September 2010.
  • Minutes of the IPSA Board Meeting, dated 19 October 2010.
  • Expense Scheme paper and covering email.

However, it is also in the public interest that IPSA is able to continue to function in an effective and efficient manner. In order to achieve this, officers must feel confident that they are able to engage in open and candid discussions without the fear that certain information will be disclosed. It is also essential that officers are able to provide free and frank advice on policy and operational matters in the confidence that the information will remain private. It is the opinion of the Qualified Person that a release of certain information would have an adverse impact on future discussions and advice and also prejudice relations with external partners. Consequently there is a real likelihood that the ability of IPSA to continue to operate in an effective manner would be jeopardised.

For these reasons the Qualified Person has decided that the public interest in disclosure of certain information is outweighed by the application of the exemption. We are therefore withholding certain email correspondence, a meeting note and a Board paper.