Highland Council Pension Fund investments

Edward Jones made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Highland Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Highland Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the Highland Council Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or investment being held.

Ideally this information would be broken down into the different categories, including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments, Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

2) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently invests in (this should be covered in the above question). This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company.

3) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the Pension Fund holds.

4) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (i), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (ii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentially agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.'(ii)

Finally, within the law of confidence these is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

(i) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...
(ii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...
(ii) 'Freedom of Information Awareness Guidance 5: Commercial Interests' Office of the Information Commissioner, Page 10, https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

Highland Council

Case Ref: HC0226-1749

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Edward Jones,

 

 

 

 

We acknowledge receipt of your request for information under the
FOI legislation received on 22/05/2017.

 

 

 

 

Subject:

 

 

 

 

 

Highland Council Pension Fund Investments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request Detail:

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Highland Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the Highland Council Pension Fund currently
invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or
investment being held.

Ideally this information would be broken down into the different
categories, including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property,
Cash Instruments, Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest
Securities, Equities Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK,
Equities Segregated Foreign as well as any other investments that the
Pension Fund holds.

2) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently
invests in (this should be covered in the above question). This list
should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each
company.

3) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the
Pension Fund holds.

4) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet
without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the
excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When
considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to
Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (i), which allows
a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular
means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information
provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the
software format in which it is embodied." (ii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format if
possible. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others,
please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If
you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other
information of interactions with private vendors in line with the
Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under
the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information
can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have
an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms
of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether
or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of
confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentially agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements
were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord
Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of
Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services)
specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these
types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of
disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's
guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements:
'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a
real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would
order disclosure in any case.'(ii)

Finally, within the law of confidence these is also a public interest
test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any
parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be
a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can
be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to
argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is
offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information
or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am
entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if
you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Highland Council will endeavour to respond within the legislative time
scale of 20 working days from date of receipt unless further clarification
of your request is required.

 

 

 

 

Further information on response times can be found at:
http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourR...

 

 

 

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Highland Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an automatically generated email - PLEASE DO NOT REPLY

 

 

Unless related to the business of The Highland Council, the views or
opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the sender and do not
necessarily reflect those of The Highland Council, or associated bodies,
nor does this e-mail form part of any contract unless so stated.
Mura h-eil na beachdan a tha air an cur an cèill sa phost-d seo a'
buntainn ri gnothachas Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, 's ann leis an neach
fhèin a chuir air falbh e a tha iad, is chan eil iad an-còmhnaidh a'
riochdachadh beachdan na Comhairle, no buidhnean buntainneach, agus chan
eil am post-d seo na phàirt de chunnradh sam bith mura h-eil sin air
innse.

Listening * Open * Valuing * Improving * Supporting * Partnering * Delivering
Èisteachd * Fosgailte * Luach * Leasachadh * Taic * Com-pàirteachas *
Lìbhrigeadh

Dear Highland Council,

I am expecting my requested information by tomorrow, please (20-06-17).

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

Alister MacBain, Highland Council

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Jones

 

Please see attached our response to your request received on 23 May 2017.

 

Alister MacBain

Client Manager

Revenues & Business Support

The Highland Council

PO Box 5650

Inverness

IV3 5YX

Tele: 01463 254970

[mobile number]

Email: [1][email address]

 

Save time, do it online: Report problems, submit applications and make
payments online on Highland Council’s website at [2]www.highland.gov.uk.

 

Unless related to the business of The Highland Council, the views or
opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the sender and do not
necessarily reflect those of The Highland Council, or associated bodies,
nor does this e-mail form part of any contract unless so stated.
Mura h-eil na beachdan a tha air an cur an cèill sa phost-d seo a'
buntainn ri gnothachas Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, 's ann leis an neach
fhèin a chuir air falbh e a tha iad, is chan eil iad an-còmhnaidh a'
riochdachadh beachdan na Comhairle, no buidhnean buntainneach, agus chan
eil am post-d seo na phàirt de chunnradh sam bith mura h-eil sin air
innse.

Listening * Open * Valuing * Improving * Supporting * Partnering * Delivering
Èisteachd * Fosgailte * Luach * Leasachadh * Taic * Com-pàirteachas *
Lìbhrigeadh

References

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2. http://www.highland.gov.uk/