Please provide copies of all correspondence (emails, letters, phone conversation records) received from members of Parliament in the past six months on the subject of changes to MPs’ pay.
You clarified, on 1 July 2015, that you would like us to carry out a keyword search of all emails received by MPs in the last six months, which included the words: pay, salary, MPs’ pay, increase or pay rise.
In processing your request, we carried out a keyword search of the terms specified in your request. As we are responsible for paying the salaries of all MPs and over 1,500 staff members each month, the search for emails including the word ‘pay’ returned over 5,000 results. As such we undertook a test to estimate the amount of time it would take to locate, retrieve and extract this information from our systems. We estimate that it would take 20 hours of staff time which takes us over the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act). As such, we are unable to comply with this part of your request.
However, we were able to carry out full searches of the remaining terms and have subsequently identified a number of emails from MPs regarding changes to MPs’ pay.
Correspondence already published on our website
The majority of these emails were sent to IPSA in response to the recent consultation on MPs’ pay and pensions and have now been published on our website, at the following address: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/Pages/Consultations.aspx. The FOIA states that information that is accessible by other means is not subject to release. Therefore, as the information you have requested is already available on our website, it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).
Information provided in confidence
A small number of individuals specifically noted the confidentiality of their correspondence at the outset. In IPSA’s view, this information is exempt under Section 41(1) of the FOIA. Section 41(1) provides an exemption to the right of access where disclosure to the public of information that has been provided to IPSA in confidence by another person would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.
Correspondence being disclosed
We have located two pieces of correspondence which were not treated as consultation responses and are not subject to confidentiality. Please find attached these pieces of correspondence.
- 3 June 2015 – Tobias Ellwood MP
- 22 June 2015 – Rachael Maskell MP
- 23 June 2015 – Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP
We have removed some personal data of third parties (other than the MPs) from the correspondence, 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.