Information about MPs' constituency offices

Request

I would appreciate if you could provide:

  • copies of MP’s rental agreements covering their constituency offices.

  • details about the size of the constituency office in square footage

  • the amount paid per annum forrent, business rates and utility bills.


Response

Rental agreements between MPs and their landlords are private contracts. Although IPSA obtains copies of these contracts to verify the amount MPs are contracted to pay by way of rent and services charges, we judge that the contracts are exempt from release under section 40 (personal information) of the Freedom of Information Act. Section 40(2) provides that personal data about third parties is exempt information if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied. Under the FOI Act disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. For further details, please see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/contents.

IPSA does not systematically hold details of the size of MPs’ constituency offices. We may hold certain details where these are specified in MPs’ contracts or where MPs may have mentioned the size of their office in correspondence.

The appropriate cost limit for responding to a Freedom of Information request is set at £450 (Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the FOIA). This represents the estimated cost of determining whether IPSA holds the information, and for locating, retrieving and extracting the information. We have estimated that it will take in excess of 18 hours (which is above the costs limit) to search and extract the requested information, given that we hold paper and electronic records of 650 MPs. Consequently, IPSA is not obliged by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to respond to this part of your request (see section 12(1)).

In respect of the amount paid on rent, business rates and utility bills by MPs, you will wish to be aware that IPSA publishes these details, along with details of other expenses incurred by MPs, once every two months on our publication website. The information you have requested is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means) because the information can be found on IPSA’s website.

Ref:
FOI2011-060
Disclosure:
June 11, 2011
Categories:
MPs' OFFICE COSTS
Exemptions Applied:
Cost limit