Details and receipts of expenses for Sir Oliver Heald’s expenses during 2019

Request

I am writing to request more details and receipts of expenses for Sir Oliver Heald’s expenses during 2019, specifically relating to the below.

  • Accommodation Renting from 26th February 2019

  • Water payment to Affinity Water March 2019

  • Service Charge (Accommodation) 29th Jan 2019

I am also wondering if you could provide me with details of allowance for an MPs second home. Is there a “minimum distance” an MP must live from Westminster or are all MPs entitled to this expense? 


Response

I can confirm that we do hold information relevant to your request. Please see the accompanying PDF which relates to the Water Payment to Affinity Water.

With regards to the second homes allowance, IPSA does not hold information about this. Since the 06 May 2010 General Election no new MPs were able to make a claim to subsidise mortgage payments on additional properties or “second homes”. This change coincided with the established of IPSA to act as a regulator of the costs and expenses claimed by MPs for carrying out their parliamentary function as well as to provide support to MPs. Those who were currently receiving the subsidy continued to do so until the end of August 2012, after which time they had to return any capital gain which they had made.

Read more about about the establishment of IPSA and changes to MPs’ claims.

Since then MPs who need to travel to Westminster may claim for accommodation while they are in London, whether this is in terms of renting a property or staying in a hotel (for which there is a cap). Further information about the nature of these claims can be found in the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs & Expenses.

Finally, you asked for copies of receipts for:

  • Accommodation Renting from 26th February 2019

  • Service Charge (Accommodation) 29th Jan 2019

This information is subject to a Refusal Notice under the FOIA. The relevant exemptions fall under section 31(1)(a) the prevention or detection of crime and section 38(1)(b) health and safety.

Section 31(1)(a)

This exemption applies where the disclosure of information would or would be likely to prejudice the prevention of crime.

Section 38(1)(b)

This exemption applies where the disclosure of information would or would be likely to endanger the safety of any individual.

These exemptions are both concerned with a high likelihood of prejudice to the prevention of crime, i.e. there is a real possibility that crime could occur, and a high likelihood that the personal safety of an individual would be put in danger if information was disclosed.

IPSA maintains that if further information relating to the rented accommodation was disclosed then there is a high likelihood of risk to the life of the MP and those connected to his office. In effect, their safety would be a risk from physical attack.

Both sections 31 and 28 are qualified exemptions and therefore subject to the public interest test. In 2017 following the attack on Westminster Bridge in London, the IPSA Board agreed that it would no longer publish any details regarding MPs’ travel arrangements which could potentially put at risk the safety of MPs and their families. The full details of what was agreed can be seen in the IPSA Board Minutes for 29 March 2017.

IPSA informed MPs of this change in a Bulletin of 30 March 2018.

Having considered your request I believe that the information already published on the website meets the requirement of demonstrating accountability and transparency. However, I believe that the threat to the safety of MPs and those connected to them has not changed since 2017 and that there remains a high likelihood of the endangerment to their safety. I, therefore, find that the public interest in withholding this information outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this time.

Ref:
RFI-202001-5
Disclosure:
June 5, 2020
Categories:
COPIES OF RECEIPTS/INVOICES
Exemptions Applied:
Section 31(1)(a), Section 38(1)(b)