Bath and North East Somerset Council/Avon Pension Fund investments

The request was successful.

Dear Bath and North East Somerset Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the Avon 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.

As examples of the kind of information I would like, please see the information released in excel format by East Sussex County Council and West Sussex County Council:

East Sussex County Council:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

West Sussex County Council:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

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...

Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

Dear Mr Jones,

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

Thank you for your request for information (as below) received on the
25^th May 2017. Apologies for our delayed acknowlegement, however we can
confirm that your request is being dealt with under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 a public authority has 20
working days to respond to a request.  Accordingly you will receive our
full response in due course.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance Team

Risk and Assurance Services

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Telephone: 01225 396658

[1]www.bathnes.gov.uk

 

Bath & North East Somerset – The place to live, work and visit 

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

 

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Information Governance, Bath and North East Somerset Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Jones,

 

Thank you for your recent request for information. Please find enclosed
the information you are entitled to receive under the (legislation).

 

I trust that we have answered your queries, however if you have any
further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

If you are unhappy with the response to your request, you may ask for an
internal review within 40 working days of receipt of this request. Please
contact the Divisional Director – Risk and Assurance Services, Mr Jeff
Wring at the Guildhall, High St, Bath BA1 5AW
[1]mailto:[email address].

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to appeal directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Please note that we have not, by way of this disclosure, granted any
permission for you to reuse or further publish the information disclosed
to you.  Please refer to the attached disclaimer regarding reuse. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Information Governance Team

Risk and Assurance Services

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Telephone: 01225 396658

[3]www.bathnes.gov.uk

 

Bath & North East Somerset – The place to live, work and visit

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

 

From:  Edward Jones <[FOI #408616 email]>

Sent:    25 May 2017 11:55

To:       Information Governance

Subject:           Freedom of Information request - Bath and North East
Somerset

Council/Avon Pension Fund investments

 

 

Dear Bath and North East Somerset Council,

 

I would like to request the following information:

 

1) The full details of what the Avon 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.

 

As examples of the kind of information I would like, please see the
information released in excel format

by East Sussex County Council and West Sussex County Council:

 

East Sussex County Council:

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

 

West Sussex County Council:

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

 

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

show quoted sections

References

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1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/

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