- What was the location, including first line address and postal code, of Lucy Powell’s constituency office between the dates 1st June 2015 and 29th February 2016?
- How much of Lucy Powell’s constituency office rent claims are attributed to the aforementioned time period of 1st June 2015 to 29th February 2016?
Separately to the above, could you also inform me;
- Do MP’s constituency offices have to be inside the MP’s own constituency in order for the MP to legitimately claim expenses for their constituency office?
- Does the constituency office have to be open to constituents in order for MP’s to legitimately claim expenses for their constituency office?
IPSA holds the information that you have requested.
Under the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses ('the Scheme'), Office Costs Expenditure (OCE) is provided to meet the costs of running, equipping and maintaining an office (or offices). This includes the renting of one or more premises to be used as a constituency office, each of which must be registered with IPSA before a rental claim is made. Paragraph 6.8 of the Scheme states that the constituency office must be located within the constituency or less than 20 miles outside it. There is no requirement for the office to be publicly open.
Ms Powell does not advertise the address of her constituency office for security reasons. As such, we are withholding the address of the office from disclosure under section 38(1)(b) of the FOIA. 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 work at this location. 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.
With regards to the rent paid for the office, we publish details of MPs’ expenditure on our website every two months. You can find this information at the following address: https://www.theipsa.org.uk/mp-costs/your-mp/lucy-powell/. As you will note, rent for Ms Powell’s constituency office is paid directly by IPSA to the landlord on a quarterly basis.