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Invoices for hotel accommodation submitted by Angus MacNeil MP
CAS-50024
Disclosure Date:14 Jun 2016
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 38 Section 40 Section 21
Request

Under FoI, could you please provide me with copies of all supporting documentation provided by Angus MacNeil to Ipsa related to your recent investigation into his hotel expenses (decision published Feb 24, 2016). This should include copies of invoices and correspondence between the MP and IPSA, as mentioned on page 4 of your report, point 17.

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Background

Under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), Accommodation Expenditure is provided to meet costs necessarily incurred on overnight accommodation which is required for the performance of an MP’s parliamentary functions. MPs may only claim for Accommodation Expenditure in relation to a property at one location, either in the London Area or in the MP’s constituency. This includes the costs of hotel accommodation, up to a maximum cost of £150 per night in the London Area or £120 elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

MPs may also claim for overnight hotel stays under Travel and Subsistence Expenditure for the cost of an overnight hotel stay where they have travelled as part of their parliamentary functions, and it would be unreasonable to return to any residence either in the London Area or their constituency.

IPSA will not pay any amounts incurred above the specified limits for hotel accommodation.

Where a claim by an MP is refused by IPSA (either in whole or in part), that MP may request a review of that decision be conducted by the Compliance Officer for IPSA. The Compliance Officer is an independent office-holder, separate from IPSA. For the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Compliance Officer is a separate public authority, and so information pertaining to his work may not necessarily be held by IPSA. You can find out more about the Compliance Officer on his website at the following address: http://www.parliamentarycompliance.org.uk.

On 29 January 2016, Mr MacNeil contacted the Compliance Officer to request a review of a decision by IPSA to refuse, in part, a number of claims for hotel accommodation, the costs of which exceeded the maximum rate of £150 per night. The Compliance Officer’s review, which was published on 24 February 2016, concluded that IPSA’s determination to refuse the claims was correct. You can find a copy of that review on the Compliance Officer’s website at the following address: http://www.parliamentarycompliance.org.uk/transparency/CompletedReviews/2015-16/Angus%20MacNeil%20-%20Compliance%20Officer%20Statement%20of%20Findings.pdf.

Details of the specific claims are published on our publication website, and can be found within the table below.

Form No.

Date

Expense Type

Nights

Total Amount Claimed

Amount Reimbursed

Amount Not Allowed

 View invoice

0000430124

14/05/2015

Hotel London Area

2

£513.60

£300.00

£231.60

Click here

0000430124

20/05/2015

Hotel London Area

2

£513.60

£300.00

£213.60

Click here

0000440593

04/06/2015

Hotel London Area

2

£405.60

£300.00

£105.60

Click here

0000440593

11/06/2015

Hotel London Area

3

£770.40

£450.00

£320.40

Click here

0000440593

18/06/2015

Hotel NOT London Area (Travel)

1

£155.00

£120.00

£35.00

Click here

Correspondence between IPSA and the MP relating to the claims

You requested copies of correspondence exchanged between Mr MacNeil and IPSA relating to the claims, as noted at paragraph 17 of the Compliance Officer’s review.

The correspondence referred to in the report is the justifications for the £150 rate being exceeded, and can be found within the Compliance Officer’s review at paragraph 11. As such, the information you have requested is already publicly available, it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).

Copies of hotel invoices

You also requested copies of the original invoices submitted by Mr MacNeil in support of the claims reviewed by the Compliance Officer in his review, noted above. Copies of those invoices can be viewed via the links in the table above.

Exemptions applied

Section 31 – law enforcement

We have withheld information contained within the invoices relating to the specific financial transaction 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 (and third parties) from the threat of being subjected to criminal activity. In our opinion the public interest in protecting the security of third parties outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Section 38 – health and safety

We have withheld some information from the invoices (such as the specific location of hotels utilised by the MP, or any information which may identify the specific location of the hotels) under Section 38(1)(b) (Health and safety) 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, endanger the safety of any individual. 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 likely that this information could be used to endanger the safety of the individuals who rely upon these locations for accommodation. Although we recognise the public interest in transparency surrounding the publishing of this information there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that as an organisation we are able to protect our service users from threats to their safety. In our opinion the public interest in protecting the personal safety of MPs’ outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. This is also in line with our stated publication policy, which states that we will not publish “the names of specific hotels which the MP stays at in London or their constituency, as the MP may stay there regularly so there is a potential security risk.”

Section 40 – personal information

This names and data relating to third parties 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.