Payments to local constituency parties or constituency associations

Request

Full details of MPs charging expenses in relation to payments to local constituency parties or constituency associations, in each of the last three years for which information is available.

I would like the response to include the names of the MPs in question, the nature of the claim – ie whether it is for rental and/or other payments, including heating, lighting, services provided – and the recipient, ie their local constituency party or association

I must stress that I am not requesting details that could compromise the privacy or security of any individual. Also, I trust you will acknowledge that recent FOI releases, notably the disclosure of the names of MPs who rent privately and the names of their landlords and agents, strengthen the case for the disclosure of member’s names and their details in particular categories of expenses claims.


Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

We have considered your request in two sections: information relating to the rental arrangements for a constituency office with a local constituency party or association; and claims relating to other goods or services, outwith the terms of a tenancy agreement.

IPSA intends to publish details relating to rental arrangements for all constituency offices.  This is in line with our agreed publication policy.  We will be preparing the information for release during the first part of next year and plan to publish by the end of the current financial year or shortly thereafter.  The information that we are intending to publish will include the details you set out in your request. Therefore IPSA has taken the view that the information you have requested is exempt under Section 22(1) of the FOIA (Information intended for future publication).

We have considered whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the application of the exemption. It is our view that the public interest is best served by publishing information on all constituency offices at an agreed point in time, rather than on an ad hoc basis.  Our view is that this provides a clear and complete set of information on all Members of Parliament, available to all members of the public.  It is for these stated reasons that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

You also requested information on claims made by Members of Parliament relating to other services, outwith the terms of a specific tenancy agreement, where the recipient of the claim is the local constituency party or association.  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 locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

In order to provide the information you request, we would need to conduct a full review of claims made by all Members of Parliament in all relevant claims categories.  We have conducted a test of the time it would take to locate, retrieve and review the claims and extract the relevant information both for Members who have a tenancy arrangement with a local constituency party or association and for Members who do not have such a tenancy agreement.  In both cases, we estimate that the staff time required would take us over the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act).  Consequently, IPSA is not obliged by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to respond to your request (see section 12(1)).

Ref:
FOI2012-A112
Disclosure:
December 10, 2012
Categories:
GENERAL EXPENSES ENQUIRY
Exemptions Applied:
Cost limit