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Constituency office rented by Christina Rees and details of professional services claims
CAS-59283
Disclosure Date:10 Oct 2016
Categories: COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES MPs' OFFICE COSTS
Exemptions Applied: Section 31 Section 38 Section 40
Request
  1. A copy of the valuation by a Chartered Surveyor required to be supplied to IPSA in respect of the rental of the premises, together with any instructions supplied to the valuer before he/she undertook the valuation
  2. A copy of the lease or licence agreement between Ms Rees and her landlord, the Neath Constituency Labour Party
  3. Any correspondence between yourself and/or the other two parties that IPSA has regarding repayments to made to IPSA due to the fact this office is shared by both parties.

Ms Rees has submitted three claims for work done by a company called Coleman Communications, under the claim heading Professional Services (Staffing). These claims were dated 09/02/16, 22/03/16 and 26/04/16 and amount to £2016, £2016 and £1356 respectively. The notes accompanying the claims state the work undertaken was Communications/PR Work. Please supply me with the following related to the foregoing:

  1. Copies of any invitation to tender for such services, and any correspondence relating to the precise nature of the work to be undertaken. What service did they provide her and/or her office?
  2. Copies of the letter of appointment of Coleman Communications by Ms Rees
  3. Copies of actual invoices submitted by Coleman Communications with regard to the work they carried out for Ms Rees.

 

Response

Office Costs Expenditure is provided under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) to meet the costs of renting, equipping and running a constituency office.

Claims may only be made for constituency office rent once IPSA has approved the MP’s rental contract and agreed that such claims can be made.

Where the constituency office is to be rented from a political party or constituency association, the MP must provide a valuation of the market rate for the contract prepared by a valuer regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and that market rate must not be exceeded.

  • Tenancy agreements and valuation for constituency office rented by Christina Rees MP

IPSA holds a copy of the constituency office rented by Christina Rees MP, and a copy of the valuation report provided to IPSA by Ms Rees relating to the constituency office.

Please click here to view most recent rental contract held relating to constituency office accommodation rented by Christina Rees MP under the Scheme.

Please click here to view a copy of the valuation report provided to IPSA by Ms Rees relating to the constituency office. As you will note from the report, the rental valuation reported reflects the use of the office by the constituency party for meetings.

Exemptions applied

Section 38 – health and safety

We have withheld information pertaining to the location or layout of the properties 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.

Section 40 – personal information

Further, personal information, such as the names and signatures of third parties (under section 40 of the FOIA) has been withheld under section 40 of the FOIA. 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.

  • Claims for professional services

Staffing Expenditure may be claimed to meet the cost incurred in the provision of staff to assist with the performance of an MP’s parliamentary functions. This includes the costs of bought-in services – staffing services provided by companies, self-employed individuals or others not on the payroll. The following information has already been published on our publication website relating to the claims in your request.

Date

Form No.

Expense Type

Notes

Status

Reimbursed

View invoice

09/02/2016

0000483598

Professional Services (Staff.)

Coleman Communications

Allowed

2016.00

Click here

22/03/2016

0000493089

Professional Services (Staff.)

Coleman Communications

Allowed

2016.00

Click here

26/04/2016

0000499867

Professional Services (Staff.)

Coleman Communications

Allowed

1356.00

Click here

Under the Scheme, all claims for reimbursement under the Scheme must be supported by evidence. You can view a copy of the Scheme on our website via this link. As such, we hold all supporting documentation provided in support of claims made by MPs. Please use the links provided in the table above to view a copy of the requested invoices.

MPs are not required to provide to IPSA any further information, and so we do not hold any invitation to tender or letter or appointment.

Exemptions applied

Section 31 – law enforcement

We have withheld the account number, invoice number and other information relating to the financial transaction contained within the invoice 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

Some information relating to third-parties, such as addresses and the names of 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.