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Freedom of Information: Requests for Data Held

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2008, Official Report, column 89W, on Freedom of Information to the hon. Member for Aberdeen North, what further steps the Members Estimate Committee plans to take regarding FoI requests for data held by the House. (199136)

The House has appealed to the High Court against the Information Tribunal decision that full details of the additional costs allowance for 14 Members should be disclosed, on the grounds that the tribunal had misdirected itself in law, in particular in ordering the disclosure of private addresses.

Further decisions by the Information Commissioner now need to be addressed. The Members Estimate Committee has taken the view that two such decisions, which require that the House should disclose less detailed information about the allowances of seven Members should not be appealed. This information will be released to the requesters shortly.

The same principle will also be applied to requests for information on the claims of 14 Members about which the House has appealed to the High Court. Data on these 14 MPs will only be disclosed now to that lesser level of information (by category of expense but not down to receipt level). The appeal relates to more detailed information about addresses and receipts.

The same level of information (i.e. by category—not down to receipt level) will be released about the expenses of all Members in the autumn, for the years 2004-05 to 2007-08. For the future, information compiled on a similar basis will be released quarterly, starting with the information relating to the first quarter of 2008-09 (April to June). This release of information will also begin in the autumn.

The MEC remains committed to reviewing the allowance system and ensuring that there is probity and transparency