Please treat this as a request under FoI regarding details of an MP’s expenses. It relates to claims made by Peter Hain in respect of his constituency home, The Tithe Barn, Neath.
I request sight of copies of all energy bills – for central heating oil and electricity – made by Mr Hain from January 2010 to date, relating to this property
I also request sight of documents – if any – that indicate Mr Hain repaid, within the above timescale, any portion of those energy bills.
We clarified, and you confirmed on 6 June 2014, that we would extract and provide key elements from the hardcopy invoices and statements we hold.
Member of Parliament are entitled, under Chapter 4 of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) to claim for associated expenditure incurred in relation to one property they own, which is registered with IPSA. This includes, under paragraph 4.10 of the Scheme, ‘utility bills (gas, electricity, other fuel and water)’. Paragraph 1.1 of the Scheme states that all claims for reimbursement must be supported by the evidence required by IPSA, in this instance, bills, invoices or statements issued by energy providers. You can view the most recent edition of the Scheme via this link.
Please find attached, at Annex A, extracted information from all energy bills submitted by Mr Hain, since January 2010 to date, in support of claims made for energy supplied to his home accommodation.
Further, with regards to your second request, Mr Hain made has made the following repayments each financial year relating to claims for heating oil, electricity and water:
- June 2011 - £160.33;
- June 2012 - £165.00;
- May 2013 - £287.59; and
- June 2014 - £144.43.
Mr Hain has sent cheques to IPSA each year relating to the amounts above. We are withholding images of these cheques under section 31 of the FOIA. This section of the Act states that information is exempt if its disclosure under the FOI Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention (or detection) or crime.
After considering the nature of the withheld information it is our opinion that were a disclosure to be made into the public domain it is probable that this information could be traced back to sensitive personal or commercial information which could be used for criminal activity. Although we recognise the public interest in transparency surrounding the publishing of this information there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that as an organisation we are able to protect our service users from the threat of being subjected to criminal activity, which is achieved through our capacity to withhold certain information from disclosure. It is for this reason that we have decided that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
However, please find attached, at Annex B, Annex C and Annex D, three letters we have located on our system, which were sent to us alongside the cheques and relate to repayments made in 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14. We have extracted the letters, redacting the names, addresses, signatures and any other information relating to third parties under section 40 of the FOIA. Section 40(2) provides that personal information about third parties is exempt information if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied. Under the FOI Act disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. For further information, you may wish to visit the UK Legislation website.