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John Whittingdale MP travel receipts
CAS-29227
Disclosure Date:16 Oct 2015
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES MPs' TRAVEL
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 40
Request

0000316788 £168.28 Date 5/11/13 London to Moscow

0000316788  £31.05 Date 12/11/13 London to Gatwick

0000352092 £568.25 Date 24/2/14 London to Chisinau

0000356611 £66 Date 9/4/14 Kiev to Odessa

0000356611 £339.05 Date 9/4/14 London to Kiev

Can you confirm actual date of travel as appears on the ticket. Also that routes given are correct eg London to Kiev and not Kiev to London or London-Kiev-London (return) If you could add any more on non UK travel allowed under the scheme other than is in the rules. Does it have to be a formal Council Of Europe meeting, or IPU trip, not just an informal visit. Is there any way of confirming on each trip what purpose it was for?

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), Travel and Subsistence claims may be made for the costs of travel, and travel-related subsistence expenditure undertaken by an MP, which are necessarily incurred in the performance of the MP’s parliamentary functions. This includes a maximum of three return journeys per year to the national Parliaments of Council of Europe member states, or institutions and agencies of the European Union. These journeys need not be related to the work of the Council of Europe, but must fall within the rules and fundamental principles of the Scheme.

Claims for air travel

Please find at the attached annexes the supporting documentation that we hold relating to the specified claims for air travel, including further details on the journeys taken.

We have withheld a small amount of information (such as invoice numbers and payment details) under section 31 of the FOIA, and personal information relating to third parties under section 40 of the FOIA.

Section 31(1)(a) (Law enforcement) of the FOI 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 information relating to MPs’ expenses there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that we are able to protect our service users from the threat of being subjected to criminal activity. In our opinion the public interest in protecting the security of MPs and their property 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.

Claim for rail travel to Gatwick Airport

As you may be aware, MPs can use an IPSA-issued payment card to pay for any business cost or expense allowable under the Scheme. Details of all payments made on the card are then provided to IPSA by the card provider and are approved or refused by IPSA’s validators. Claims which are refused are then required to be repaid to IPSA by the MP.

With regards to the claim for a rail journey from London to Gatwick Airport, Mr Whittingdale bought a ticket for the Gatwick Express on his payment card, which was confirmed to IPSA by the card provider. As the claim amount reconciled with the standard fare for the Gatwick Express, and his presence at Gatwick Airport was confirmed by the subsequent flight to Moscow, no further supporting documentation was required from Mr Whittingdale.

Reasons for journeys claimed

The following reasons were given for the journeys claimed.

Journey

Reason specified by MP in claim notes

London to Moscow

Travel to Moscow to attend International Parliamentary Forum at invitation of the Russian Parliament (Russia is a Council of Europe country)

London to Chisinau

Return Economy Airfare to Chisinau, Moldova, as part of Parliamentary delegation to meet Ministers and MPs in Moldova (Council of Europe member)

London to Kiev

Return flight to Kiev as part of Parliamentary delegation to Ukraine to meet Members of the Government and Members of the Ukrainian Parliament

Kiev to Odessa

Return flight from Kiev to Odessa as part of Parliamentary delegation to visit European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine in Odessa