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Action taken to recover amounts owed by MPs (August 2017)
CAS-87164
Disclosure Date:3 Aug 2017
Categories: DEBT
Exemptions Applied: Section 22
Request
  1. A breakdown of the amounts owed to Ipsa by MPs and former MPs as of the most recent available date, including names.
  2. Details of MPs and former MPs who have been subject to action to recover money owed, since the last disclosure you made (September). Could this include names, the amount of debt when the action was taken, what measures were taken (eg cancelling payment cards), and what the current level of outstanding debt is.

 

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

There are numerous reasons why an MP may owe an amount to IPSA. The fact that an MP is required to pay an amount to IPSA does not indicate any breach of the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) or the associated rules. Indeed, the day to day operation of the expenses systems means that at any one point in time, amounts will be owed by IPSA to MPs, and by MPs to IPSA.

For example, claims made on payment cards require reconciling a month after the cost is incurred; purchases are made on the card by the MP and supporting documentation must then be supplied to IPSA by the end of the month. Until supporting documentation is received, the claim is marked as requiring repayment. Where supporting documentation can be provided for a claimable expense, the amount is not required to be repaid by the MP.

Our current publication policy, announced in April 2017, states that we will publish any amount of money overdue for repayment to IPSA by an MP, including information on why money needs to be repaid. We will begin publishing the information in 2018. Section 22(1) of the FOIA states that information intended for future publication is exempt from release. We have considered whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the application of the exemption. It is our opinion that the public interest is best served by publishing, on a regular and agreed schedule, a set of clear and comparable data - rather than publishing, on an ad hoc basis, a snapshot of figures which are changing on an hourly basis and do not provide an accurate reflection of circumstances. It is for this reason that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this stage.