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Invoice for start-up costs claimed by Carolyn Harris MP
CAS-49747
Disclosure Date:13 Jun 2016
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 40 Section 43
Request

On 22/11/2015 the above MP made a claim for £1,500 in respect of Start Up costs - payment to a consultant for providing "training for MP Staff".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the original invoice relating to this claim? Who was the consultant/consultancy involved?

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), Start-Up Expenditure is designed to meet the costs of setting up one or more constituency offices as a new MP and is available for MPs elected to Parliament for the first time for a particular constituency. The Scheme states that claims for reimbursement must be supported by evidence. As such, we hold all supporting documentation provided in support of claims made by MPs. You can view a copy of the Scheme on our website via this link.

The following information relating to this claim has already been published on our publication website.

Form No.

Short Description

Date

Expense Type

Reimbursed

0000468221

Employee Handbook and Training

22/11/2015

Training for MP Staff StartUp

1500.00

Please click here to view a copy of the invoice submitted by Ms Harris in support of the claim, which also provides the name of the supplier providing the service.

Exemptions applied

Section 31 – law enforcement

We have withheld information relating to the financial transactions 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 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

The direct phone numbers and emails of individuals are ‘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.

Section 43 – Commercial interests

Under section 43(2) of the FOIA, we have withheld information contained within invoice which would reveal the rates charged by the supplier, as disclosure of this information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the supplier.

Section 43 of the FOIA provides an exemption for information which is commercially sensitive, where disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).

In considering this exemption, we have balanced the competing public interest arguments for and against disclosure. IPSA believes in transparency, and publishes details of all claims made by MPs on our publication website. In this instance, we believe that the public interest in assuring the public has already been fulfilled by:

  1. the active publication of amounts paid to the supplier on a monthly basis on our publication website; and
  2. images of the invoices associated with these claims, which also provide the monthly amount paid to the company.

We do not believe that the disclosure of information revealing reveal the rate charged by the supplier, which would have the effect of prejudicing the commercial interests of the supplier, contributes in a significantly meaningful manner to the public interest. As such, we do not consider that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the application of the exemption and we are therefore applying the exemption at Section 43 (2) of the FOIA to withhold the information requested.