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Invoices for professional services claimed by Sian James and Carolyn Harris MP
CAS-41071
Disclosure Date:11 Mar 2016
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES MPs' OFFICE COSTS MPs' STAFFING
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 40
Request

Copies of invoices submitted by Sian James and Carolyn Harris MP in relation to claims for professional services

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

MPs are permitted, under chapter seven of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), to claim staffing expenditure to meet the cost incurred in the provision of staff to assist with the performance of parliamentary functions. This includes the costs of payments for bought-in services - staffing services provided by companies, self-employed individuals or others not on the payroll, such as self-employed individuals providing staffing cover or individuals contracted to work on specific research projects (amongst other examples). You can view a copy of the Scheme on our website via this link.

Under the Scheme, all claims for reimbursement must be supported by evidence. As such, we hold all supporting documentation provided in support of claims made by MPs.

Please click here to download copies of invoices submitted by Ms James and Mrs Harris in support of the claims specified in your request.

All such claims were reimbursed in full by IPSA.

Exemptions applied

Section 31 – Law enforcement

We have withheld a small amount of information under Section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act, which relates to law enforcement. This includes information such as:

  • Invoice numbers;
  • Credit card details; and
  • Account references.

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 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 – Personal information

A small amount information, such as the phone number of the MP and the names of junior staff members, is ‘personal data’, as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). As such, we have withheld such information in accordance with section 40 of the FOIA. For reference, section 40(2) provides that personal information about third parties is exempt information if disclosure would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the DPA, where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. You can find out more information about personal data and FOI via guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on their website: http://ico.org.uk.