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Freedom of Information

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission by what means hon. Members are consulted before cases involving the House are brought before the Freedom of Information Tribunal; what the total cost to the House has been of such cases to date; and if he will make a statement. (190771)

The House has appealed to the Information Tribunal on three separate occasions: twice in respect of hon. Members’ travel expenses and once in respect of information about the Additional Costs Allowance. In each case before lodging an appeal, the Members Estimate Committee—the body responsible for giving advice on matters connected with the allowances—was consulted. In each case the Committee took the view that as hon. Members held divergent views on the extent to which such information should be made available to the public it was appropriate that the level of disclosure should be considered by the Tribunal. In addition, where the appeals related to the allowances of named individuals, the Members concerned have been kept informed at each stage of the process.

The total external legal costs of the two previous appeals and the cost to date for the most recent appeal is £51,947. Other legal and staff costs including those relating to advice from the House’s Legal Services Office and those associated with staff time are not separately available.