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Jim Murphy MP's expense claims: payments to organisations; constituency office lease agreements; staffing arrangements
F1415-084
Disclosure Date:11 Dec 2014
Categories: GENERAL EXPENSES ENQUIRY MPs' STAFFING MPs' OFFICE COSTS
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 38 Section 40
Request
  1. Broken down by financial years 2010/11, 11/12, 12/13 and 13/14, please state how much was paid from Jim Murphy MP’s allowances to the following external bodies for staffing and other payments: a)Member’s Support Unit b)Switchboard Ltd, and please provide copies of all invoices from these bodies. To be clear, MSU is external, and not the collective body used by MPs to pay for collective services.
  2. Please provide a copy of all Jim Murphy MP’s constituency office leases and constituency office rental agreements since May 2010.
  3. Broken down by financial years 2010/11, 11/12, 12/13 and 13/14, please tell me the job title and job description of all Jim Murphy MP’s parliamentary and constituency staff.
Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Taking your requests for information in turn:

  • Broken down by financial years 2010/11, 11/12, 12/13 and 13/14, please state how much was paid from Jim Murphy MP’s allowances to the following external bodies for staffing and other payments: a)Member’s Support Unit b)Switchboard Ltd, and please provide copies of all invoices from these bodies. To be clear, MSU is external, and not the collective body used by MPs to pay for collective services.

In processing your request, we carried out a search of all the free text fields on Mr Murphy’s claims to identify any relating to the bodies you reference. From this information, we were unable to locate any relevant claims.

We subsequently carried out a manual search of every invoice submitted by Mr Murphy under the Office Costs Expenditure and Staffing budgets since 2010. As such, we located 25 invoices for payments to the ‘Members’ Support Unit’. The following amounts were paid to the Members’ Support Unit each financial year.

Financial year

Amount paid (£)

2010/11

21,397

2011/12

35,939

2012/13

21,035

2013/14

0

Please find attached, at Annex A, extracted invoices relating to this payments. IPSA does not, as a matter of course, publish images of receipts or invoices supporting claims. We believe that the information we proactively publish on our publication website, www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk, provides a significant amount of detail and gives a clear picture of what MPs are claiming for and affords reassurance that claims are both appropriate for MPs to carry out their parliamentary functions, and in accordance with the rules set out in the MPs’ Expenses Scheme.

The information attached, at Annex A, provides the information released on IPSA’s publication website relating to these claims, as well as any additional information contained on the invoice. Please note that in line with our stated publication policy, we have withheld a small number of details from the invoices. These include the invoice number, and payment details. We have withheld this information under Section 31(1)(a) (Law enforcement) of the FOI Act. 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 invoice 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.

We did not locate any invoices for payments to Switchboard Ltd.

  • Please provide a copy of all Jim Murphy MP’s constituency office leases and constituency office rental agreements since May 2010.

Please find attached, at Annexes B and C, a copy of Jim Murphy MP’s constituency office leases.

We have redacted some information from these leases under section 38 (health and safety) and section 40 (personal information) of the FOIA.

Section 38(1)(b) (Health and safety) of the FOI Act states that information is exempt if its disclosure under the FOI Act would, or would be likely to, endanger the safety of any individual. As required under the terms of the FOIA, we have conducted a public interest test with regards this exemption. 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 likely that this information could be used to endanger the safety of the individuals who rely upon these locations for accommodation.

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 threats to their safety, which is achieved through our capacity to withhold certain information from disclosure. This is also in line with our stated publication policy. It is for this reason that we have decided that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

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.

We also considered the exemption at section 41 of the FOIA (information provided in confidence), with relation to one of the constituency leases. We considered whether disclosure would be likely to give rise to an actionable breach of confidence. On balance, we decided this would not be the case and have therefore not applied the exemption.

  • Broken down by financial years 2010/11, 11/12, 12/13 and 13/14, please tell me the job title and job description of all Jim Murphy MP’s parliamentary and constituency staff.

Please find attached, at Annex D, the job titles of all Mr Murphy’s parliamentary and constituency office staff, who were registered with IPSA and paid through IPSA’s payroll, broken down by financial year.

We publish, on our website, an overview of all the roles and duties associated with various job titles. You can find this via the following link: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/Job%20Description/Documents/MP%20staff%20JDs%20spreadsheet.pdf

Individual job descriptions are personal information. We are therefore withholding this information 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.