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Further information on claims submitted by Angus MacNeil MP, Iain Wright MP, Dan Byles MP and Ian Paisley MP
F1415-124
Disclosure Date:6 Mar 2015
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES MPs' ACCOMMODATION
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 38 Section 40
Request

The hotel name(s) given on receipts for the following expense claims:

  • MP Name: Angus MacNeil
  • Expense type: Accommodation / Hotel London Areas
  • Dates: All of this category of expense claim that were registered in the year 2013/14

A copy of the receipts (or other documents) submitted for the following three claims:

  • MP Name: Iain Wright
    Expense type: Parking MP Staff
    Date: 09/09/2013
    Amount claimed: £700
  • MP Name: Daniel Byles
    Expense type: Accomodation rent
    Date: 17/09/2014
  • MP Name: Ian Paisley
    Expense type: Accommodation rent
    Date: 4/07/2014

 

Response

I will take your requests for information in turn.

Hotel claims by Angus MacNeil MP

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Members of Parliament are permitted, under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), to claim for expenses legitimately incurred whilst carrying out their parliamentary duties and are required to certify that this is the case before submitting claims.  This may include overnight accommodation at a hotel, up to a maximum cost of £150 per night in the London Area, or £120 elsewhere in the United Kingdom. 

Please find at Annex A the information requested, accompanied by the information already published on our website describing each claim.

As you will see from the attached Annex, while we have released information relating to the name of the hotel brand, we have withheld the exact location and address. We have also redacted the full name of one hotel which, if released, would disclose the specific location.

We have withheld this information under Section 38(1)(b) (Health and safety) 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, endanger the safety of any individual. 

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. This is especially the case for individuals who regularly stay at the same location.

We recognise the public interest in transparency surrounding the publishing of this information, but we are also minded by a strong public interest in ensuring that as an organisation we are able to protect our service users from threats to their safety.  This is achieved through our capacity to withhold certain information from disclosure, and 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.

Copies of receipts

As you may be aware, 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 IPSA’s Publication website www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk provides a significant amount of detail.  It 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 to this response (at Annexes B, C and D) provide any additional information contained on the documents held on record.

Please find at Annex B an extracted copy of two letters confirming payment for two car parking spaces.  We have withheld any personal 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.

We have withheld the signatures of third parties 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 the wider document, 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.

Please find, at Annexes C and D, two documents submitted in support of claims for rent.

When paying rent, MPs can choose to either:

  • pay the landlord or agent themselves, and then claim reimbursement for that cost from their accommodation expenditure budget, or
  • register a direct payment with IPSA, whereby IPSA pays the agent or landlord directly.

In both instances, the MPs had registered their accommodation with IPSA and requested regular direct payments be made to the landlords. As such, the documents submitted in support of the claims for rent are the leases for the rented properties, submitted to IPSA when the properties were first registered.

As above, we have also withheld any signatures from these documents under section 31 of the FOIA.

We have also withheld the address of the properties rented, and in the case of Mr Paisley, we have also redacted the name and address of the landlord, under Section 38(1)(b) (Health and safety) 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, endanger the safety of any individual. 

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. We must also give due weight to the threats that public figures in Northern Ireland, such as Mr Paisley, continue to face. It is for this reason that we have decided that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.