Details of unpaid debt, credit card suspensions, and late repayment

Request

You requested details of:

(a) MPs’ unpaid debt;

(b) MPs’ credit card suspensions; and

(c) MPs’ late repayments of money received from subletting.


Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

I will take each of the issues in turn.

(a) MPs’ unpaid debt

Debts to IPSA can be incurred by MPs for a number of reasons. For example, the MP may use their IPSA credit card for an item which is not allowed under the rules or the MP may exceed their budget in a particular year. We will always seek to recover any money owed to the taxpayer. IPSA’s policy up until 2015 was to write off debts where it would be more costly to pursue repayment. However, the policy has since changed and we now pursue all unpaid debts. In addition to this, IPSA publishes details of all repayments of money owed.

Details of MPs with unpaid debts can be found on our website under the section ‘’debts written off.

(b) MPs’ credit card suspensions

In relation to this part of your request, the information has been published in full on our website in response to a previous Freedom of Information request.

The information (including details about why credit cards were suspended), can be found at: CAS-124175.

(c) MPs’ sublet repayments

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 is contained in the spreadsheet which accompanies this response. This lists the MPs who were identified through our 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.

Some of the information contained in the attached spreadsheet has been withheld in accordance with s.40 FOIA (Personal Information). Further information on the application of this exemption can be found below.

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 third parties with whom they engage would reasonably expect.

We have withheld the names of individuals who sublet MPs’ office accommodation, as we believe the GDPR 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.

Ref:
CAS-147695
Disclosure:
July 31, 2019
Categories:
GENERAL EXPENSES ENQUIRY
Exemptions Applied:
Section 40