Please provide a copy of all taxi receipts submitted by MPs in the last financial year, and this financial year to date.
If this quantity of information would breach the cost limit set out by the FOI, please provide as many months of receipts as possible, counting back from the present.
Under the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), MPs can claim the costs of taxi fares where:
- no other reasonable method of transport is available,
- alternative transport methods of transport are impracticable due to pregnancy, illness or injury of the MP or staff member, or
- MPs have been working late on parliamentary business.
Such claims should be supported by appropriate evidence, such as a receipt. As such, IPSA holds the information that you request.
In processing your request for information, we have identified over 4,000 possible claims for taxi journeys during 2016-17 and 2017-18 (to date) which would require extraction from our systems. We have calculated that the cost of extracting this information would considerably exceed the appropriate cost limit of £450. This does not include the additional, more significant costs involved in applying exemptions to the information requested to ensure the security of MPs and their staff. During this process, IPSA’s Publication team (consisting of three individuals) review every individual receipt to ensure that any sensitive information contained within the documents are not disclosed which could putting the safety and security of MPs and their staff at risk. In addition, further reviews are undertaken by IPSA’s FOI team (consisting of two individuals), and all MPs who are included in the request must be notified prior to disclosure. Under the terms of the FOIA, these additional costs cannot be included within the cost limit.
As specified in your request, we have also assessed the extent to which information could still be provided within the terms of the cost limit. We have estimated that we would be able to extract information relating to around 1800 claims within the cost limit of £450. However, the aggregate time it would take to review all of this information prior to disclosure would exceed 160 hours of staff time.
Under Section 14(1) of the FOIA, public authorities can consider whether complying with a request is likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption. This includes considering whether the effort required to provide the information request would be so grossly oppressive in terms of the strain on time and resources that the authority cannot reasonably be expected to comply, no matter how legitimate the subject matter or valid the intentions of the requester. We believe that complying with this request would divert resources away from crucial business-as-usual work in a way that would have a significant detrimental impact on our ability to conduct our functions.
Having considered the request for information and the work required to comply with your request, we have also considered the following:
- the request has asked for a substantial volume of information,
- we have real concerns (from past experience of similar requests) about potentially exempt information contained within the receipts requested, and
- any potentially exempt information cannot easily be isolated because it is scattered throughout the requested material.
As such, we regret that in accordance with section 14(1) of the FOIA we are unable to comply with your request for information.
 A tribunal (EA/2011/0222) found in 2012 that “A request may be so grossly oppressive in terms of the resources and time demanded by compliance as to be vexatious, regardless of the intentions or bona fides of the requester.”