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Complaints received by IPSA from MP in last 12 months, running costs of IPSA, number of staff employed, expenses claimed by IPSA staff
CAS-33708
Disclosure Date:28 Jan 2016
Categories: IPSA - FINANCIAL IPSA - OPERATIONS IPSA - STAFF
Exemptions Applied: Section 36
Request
  • The total running cost of IPSA (for the last year where figures are available).
  • The total number of (a) full-time, and (b) part-time staff currently employed by IPSA.
  • The total amount of money that was claimed in expenses by IPSA staff (for the last year where figures are available).
  • Copies of any emails and letters of complaint that have been received by IPSA from MPs within the last 12 months. 
Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

IPSA’s operations

IPSA’s Annual Report and Accounts include details on IPSA’s operations, including the total annual running cost each financial year and the number of staff employed during that financial year. Copies of these reports can be found on our website at the following address: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/Pages/Corporate-reports-and-publications.

IPSA’s expenses

IPSA has an internal policy for meeting the extra expenses incurred by anyone employed by IPSA on a permanent or temporary basis or contracted on an interim basis, when undertaking IPSA business. The aim is to provide for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred actually and necessarily during the course of business. All expenses incurred must be supported by receipts. Failure to provide receipts will invalidate a claim. A full copy of that policy can be found on our website at the following address: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/Corporate%20Codes/Staff%20Expenses%20Policy.pdf.

The expenses code relating to IPSA’s Board members can be found at the following address:

http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/IPSA%20facts%20and%20figures/Expenses%20for%20IPSA%20Board%20and%20senior%20staff%20(including%20grade%20F%20and%20above)/Board%20Expenses%20Claims%20Code.pdf.

Details of all expenses claimed by Board members and senior members of staff are published on our website and can be found via this link.

During the 2014-15 financial year, £1253.34 was spent on business costs and expenses by junior members of IPSA’s staff. Over the course of the financial year, IPSA took part in the House of Commons series of nationwide Open Days for MPs’ staff. A large proportion of costs included in this amount relate to accommodating and transporting staff to such events around the country.

Complaints

Please find attached below an extracted copy of our complaints log, which lists the names of current MPs who have submitted a formal complaint to IPSA in the last 12 months alongside the date of the complaint, and the complaint category and sub-category.

MP Name

Category

Sub-Category

Date

John Stevenson

Formal complaint

IPSA process

10/09/2015

Kate Hoey

Formal complaint

Service Delivery

03/08/2015

In processing your request for the correspondence, we have considered the application of the exemption at s.36(2)(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the FOI Act. In consideration of this qualified exemption, we are required to apply the public interest test.

IPSA’s qualified person, as designated by the Lord Chancellor under s.36(5)(o)(iii) of the FOI Act, is Sir Neil Butterfield. He has considered the competing arguments and has provided the following comments.

As the Qualified Person designated by the Lord Chancellor under Section 36(5) of the Freedom of Information Act my duty is to assess whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure in relation to the exemption specified in Section 36 of the Act, and in particular in this case whether disclosure is likely to be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs. In doing so I have considered all the correspondence to which the request relates and the arguments for and against applying Section 36.

In determining whether in my reasonable opinion the release of some or all of that correspondence would, or would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs I have given full weight to the presumption in the FOIA that information should be released on request. I further recognize and take fully into account that such part of the material to which Section 40 (personal information) might apply can be redacted, and that it is in the public interest for a publicly funded organization to be transparent about complaints made in connection with its operations.

However, I have also given weight to the consideration that releasing this correspondence, even if redacted, might lead to a significant breakdown in trust between IPSA and Members of Parliament for the following reasons.

MPs and their staff must feel comfortable in making complaints to IPSA, whether those complaints are justified or not. Only in such circumstances can the concerns of MPs be fairly addressed by IPSA. Further, it is only in such circumstances that IPSA can identify where processes may have been at fault and take measures to improve the quality of the service it provides to MPs. If the correspondence were to be put into the public domain it is overwhelmingly probable that it would attract media comment which, whether objectively reasonable or not, would be highly likely to discourage MPs from making formal complaint to IPSA in the future. Such discouragement would be detrimental to the functioning of IPSA and to MPs. MPs would not feel free to raise issues of concern to them and IPSA would not be able to review the issues raised and address any shortcomings.

I have also considered whether MPs would reasonably expect to see all their correspondence with IPSA relating to complaints they have made released to the public and have concluded that they would not reasonably have such an expectation.

It is in the light of these factors that I consider that the release of the correspondence into the public domain could lead to a significant breakdown of trust between IPSA and the MP whose correspondence was released and in consequence with other MPs. Such a breakdown in trust, if it occurred, is highly likely in my view to have an adverse effect on the way in which MPs and IPSA relate and interact with each other generally with a consequential significant impact on the conduct of public affairs. I am firmly of the view that trust between MPs and IPSA is of fundamental importance. If MPs felt that they were unable to communicate with IPSA without all their correspondence being put into the public domain that would unquestionably be detrimental to the way in which they dealt with IPSA. The release of the information requested would have an adverse effect on the relationship with IPSA not only in respect of the MPs directly affected but all MPs. It would much reduce the confidence they would otherwise have in dealing openly and frankly with IPSA. The information which IPSA proposes to release provides wholly adequate detail of the complaints received and the outcome of them.

For the reasons set out above it is my reasonable opinion that the release of the requested correspondence would be likely to be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs.

In the light of this conclusion I, as the Qualified Person, apply Section 36(2) of the Act to exempt the correspondence from being released.

For these reasons, Sir Neil Butterfield has, in his capacity as the Qualified Person, concluded that in his reasonable opinion, disclosure of the information requested would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. He further considered the public interest in disclosure of the information, and concluded that public interest is outweighed by the application of the exemption and we have, therefore, applied s.36(2)(b) and s.36(2)(c) of the FOI Act to exempt the requested information from being released.