Subletting

Request

Following the publication of IPSA’s assurance review into subletting, please provide the names of those five MPs to have confirmed to IPSA that repayments related to subletting IPSA-owned offices had been missed.

In relation to these five MPs, please provide the:

  • amount the MP repaid to IPSA in missed payments

  • dates which these repayments related to

  • address of the property it related to

  • name of the subtenant

Furthermore, please detail all payments from the proceeds of subletting that the aforementioned five MPs have paid to IPSA over the last two years.

Finally, please list all of the MPs who sublet IPSA-owned offices alongside the office’s address, how long the address has been sublet for and the total amount to have been repaid to IPSA over the last two years,


Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Under the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), all claims for reimbursement under the Scheme must be supported by evidence.  An office costs budget is provided to meet the costs of renting, equipping and running an MP’s office or offices and surgeries.

Chapter Six of the Scheme states: Where MPs grant a licence or give permission to any other person to use the constituency office or any part of it (such as a subletting arrangement), a fee must be charged which reflects an appropriate proportion of the rent and other costs incurred. The fee must be remitted to IPSA in its entirety.

IPSA does not own any offices or other forms of accommodation which it rents out to MPs. These offices are ordinarily rented from other landlords, and we classify these as IPSA-funded offices.

The information that you request in relation to the first part of your request is contained in the table below:

MPSubtenant Amount repaidPeriod relating to
Ian Mearns[Withheld s.40 FOIA]£1200August 17 - June 2018£120 per month
Shabana Mahmood[Withheld s.40 FOIA] - Back Office Management£485.80April 2016 - October 2016£69.40 per month
Jack DromeyCLP£1300Jan - Dec 2016 (missed payment) and Jan - Dec 2018 (paid at the same time as missed payment)£650 per year
Andy McDonaldMiddlesbrough Labour Group£7502015, 2016. (2018 - paid at the same time as missed payments due in 2015 and 2016)£250 per year
Kate HollernBlackburn with Darwen Labour Group and Blackburn Labour Party£1354.17£1300 for 2017-18, additional amounts for missed payment from 2016-2017£1300 per year, £650 each from both groups

This lists the MPs who were identified through the assurance review on subletting as having missed repayments to IPSA; the amount repaid following the review; and the period the repayments relate to.  

Please note that in relation to Mr Dromey’s payment, the amount of £650 for 2018 was paid at the same time as the missed payment of £650 for 2016, and is reflected in the total amount repaid.

Likewise, Mr McDonald’s payment of £250 for 2018 was paid at the same time as the two missed payments for 2015 and 2016, and is included in the total amount repaid.

In relation to your final question, all repayments made by any MP are published in line with our publication policy, and all repayments as of March 2019 can be found on our website. As explained on pages 5 and 6 of the assurance review, the repayment information that we receive from MPs has not always been classified correctly, meaning that we do not hold an accurate figure for the total amount that has been repaid to IPSA from rental income. 

Information on repayments by MPs can be found by visiting our website.

From the top right-hand corner, select the financial year you are interested in;

Then from the second drop-down menu select individual claims;

Once the spreadsheet has been downloaded, you will need to apply filters;

Under Column G – ‘Expense type’, you can find the requested information by filtering ‘Const Office Rental Income’.

Please note that it is not a requirement that MPs make public, details of their constituency office address, and where they have not chosen to do so, then IPSA will not ordinarily release that information into the public domain. In this regard, we have withheld disclosure of address information in accordance with both s.21 (Information reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means), where an MP has published their address details, and s.40 (Personal Information) where that information is not already in the public domain, and where an MP has chosen not to disclose their constituency address details.

Exemptions applied

Section 21 - Information reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means

The FOIA states that information that is accessible by other means is not subject to release. Therefore, as some of the information you have requested is already available on our website, or in the public domain it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA.

Section 40 – Personal Information

Information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person is ‘personal data’, as defined by the General Data Protection Principle (GDPR).

Section 40(2) of the FOIA provides that personal information is exempt information if:

(a) it constitutes personal data; and

(b) the condition set out in s. 40(3A)(a) of FOIA is satisfied, namely that disclosure to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles in the GDPR.

In our view (a) is satisfied because the information sought by you relates to information about an identifiable, living individual, and (b) is also satisfied because disclosure would breach the first data protection principle in Article 5(1)(a) of the GDPR, which requires that personal information is processed fairly, lawfully and in a transparent manner; processing includes disclosure. In relation to fairness, IPSA is required to process personal data in a manner in which people, including MPs and their staff would reasonably expect.

We do not consider it within the reasonable expectations of MPs that details about their constituency address would be disclosed on the basis that they have chosen not to disclose this information themselves. There may be a variety of reasons why MPs choose not to disclose their constituency office address. In this regard, we do not believe that disclosure would be fair, and are obliged to withhold it from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA.

Furthermore, we have also withheld the names of individuals who sublet MPs’ office accommodation, as we believe the same considerations concerning fairness apply. We further consider that these individuals would have a considerably higher expectation of privacy, and are therefore obliged to withhold this information.

This part of the section 40 exemption is an absolute exemption and so no consideration of public interest arguments for and against disclosure is required.

This concludes our response to your request.

How to request an internal review of this response

If you are dissatisfied with this response, you may request an internal review. The internal review will be carried out by someone who was not involved in the original decision, and who will assess the handling of the original request.

If you wish to request an internal review, please write to IPSA within two months of the date of this letter, at the following address using the details provided at the header of this letter.

If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under Section 50 of the FOIA.  More details can be found on the ICO’s website.

Ref:
CAS-145205
Disclosure:
July 18, 2019
Categories:
MPs' OFFICE COSTS
Exemptions Applied:
Section 21