Electronic copies of all volunteer/intern agreements submitted by MPs in the past three years

Request

I understand that MPs are required to submit a copy of this agreement to you when taking on an intern, which you ask them to base on your own 'IPSA model volunteer intern agreement'.

I do not want the disclosure of any information that would prejudice data protection rights, and would like the name and signature of the volunteer/intern to be redacted.

I would still like all documents available even if you decide that a minority of the forms cannot be released because the intern may be identifiable from the rest of the information in the form.

[...]

If you have received such agreements from MPs for fewer than three years, I'd be grateful for all agreements going as far back as the current system goes, and for all agreement/registration forms fulfilling a similar purpose for the remainder of the past three years (if such  exist).

[...]

As I understand it, redaction does not contribute the work/time/cost limit for FoI requests, but if you believe that locating, retrieving and extracting my request may exceed the FoI cost or time limit, please provide as many Agreement forms as possible within the limit, working 'backwards' from the present.


Response

We wrote to you on 6 January 2014 to inform you that we hold information in relation to volunteers: individuals registered with IPSA by Members of Parliament for the purpose of claiming for incidental expenses such as lunch and travel to and from work, but who are not entitled to receive a salary.  This includes individuals undertaking work experience, on student placements, or internships with MPs.  “Unpaid interns” are, by definition, volunteers and we do not hold information on “interns” separately.   Each volunteer must complete a volunteer intern registration via the online expenses system and complete and send to IPSA a model volunteer intern agreement.

MPs may call some of their salaried staff “interns”. These staff must be paid at least the national minimum wage. They are not required to complete volunteer intern registrations. We do not hold all the information in the time period specified in your original request, as our systems and processes did not always separately identify paid interns from other salaried staff paid through IPSA’s payroll. 

You confirmed, in an email dated 6 January 2014, that you were happy for us to provide you with the data we hold relating to volunteers registered with IPSA by MPs to claim incidental expenses. 

In processing your request, we estimated that it would take significantly longer than 18 hours to provide you with all of the information that you requested.  Scanned copies of volunteer intern agreements are held on our system, and providing the information requested requires locating the data, retrieving the scanned agreement and manually extracting all of the information held within the agreement. 

In your request, you stipulated that should it take longer than the statutory 18 hour limit to locate, retrieve and extract all the information requested, you would like all the agreements we are able to provide within the limit, working backwards in time from the date of the request.

As such, we are able to provide you with some of the information you requested, dating from 19 July 2013 to the date of your request, 9 December 2013, which represents 161 volunteer intern agreements submitted by 90 MPs.  As well as volunteers, this includes individuals undertaking work experience or student placements.

Please find attached, in Annex A, a blank copy of the model volunteer intern agreement.  We have separately extracted any information contained on each separate volunteer intern agreement, sent to us within the dates stated above, that deviates from the standard text provided in the blank model agreement.  You can find this extracted information in the spreadsheet attached, Annex B.

That a volunteer is registered does not indicate that claims for incidental expenses have been submitted to IPSA.  The information also does not indicate the length of time individuals have been registered as volunteers, although the period will often be short.  We publish details of MPs’ claims for expenses on our website.  You may view the published information by visiting our publication website.  Details of claims for expenses are published in a two month cycle, three months in arrears.

We have redacted the names of volunteer interns, as well as any information relating to their home address and details of their bank accounts, under Section 40 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 information, you may wish to visit the UK Legislation website.

Ref:
F1314-188
Disclosure:
February 3, 2014
Categories:
MPs' STAFFING
Exemptions Applied:
Section 40