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Copy of Mapeley Steps (Strategic Transfer of Estate to the Private Sector) PFI Contract

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Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please provide a full, unredacted copy of the Mapeley Steps PFI contract including the financial model, and various options for HMRC use of the STEPS offices, post 2021 contract termination.

Yours faithfully,

Joel M Benjamin

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: FOI2017/02465

Dear Mr Benjamin,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 19th December which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Benjamin,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 19th
December.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

Dear HM Revenue and Customs,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of HM Revenue and Customs's handling of my FOI request 'Copy of Mapeley Steps (Strategic Transfer of Estate to the Private Sector) PFI Contract'.

HMRC have rejected sections of the application, citing the Data Protection Act for 'personal data' section 40 (2), the prevention or detection of crime, Sections 31(1) (a) & (d) of the FOIA and Commercial Sensitivity, Section 43(2) of FOIA.

Taking these points in turn, the majority of the PFI contract, having already been released via FOI into the public realm has been published in the national archives.

What remains of the PFI contract that has not been disclosed, namely the financial model, contract commercial pricing details, funding information and options for HMRC to use various STEPS buildings post contract termination may include some limited personal information.

However, given such personal information only relates to a small sub-section of the full PFI contract, and can be easily redacted, this should not preclude disclosure of the remainder of the PFI contract.

Where senior Government officials and civil servants are named in the PFI/ contract - these individuals are discharging various duties on behalf of taxpayers, and do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In terms of the prevention or detection of crime, Sections 31(1) (a) & (d)

Section 31 is engaged only if a prejudice test is satisfied; essentially, if disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice investigation and subsequent enforcement activity.” See: WS v (1) Information Commissioner and (2) North Lancashire PCT [2013] UKUT 181 (AAC) (09 April 2013).

It should be noted that the request was for the details of a PFI contract, relating to buildings and facility maintenance, not the IT infrastructure, conduct of tax assessments and investigations conducted within these PFI facilities.

If, on the balance of probability, disclosure could be likely to compromise investigations made within secure facilities, then this section of the contract can be withheld, after having considered the fact the use of the PFI facilities is being would down between 2018-2020 and HMRC staff transferred to Canary Wharf, significantly reducing any risk potentially associated with public disclosure at this late stage of the contract term, which was agreed in 2000.

Finally, with regard to information withheld under section 43(2) FOIA because its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Mapeley and/or HMRC, which was said to include property specific commercial data, as well as commercially sensitive information including contract pricing, the financial model, funding information and options for use of properties post 2021.

It should be noted the STEPS contract was signed in the early years of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) - where it was widely acknowledged by the NAO, and HRMC itself, that PFI deals were struck on commercial terms overly generous to the private sector, which would not be repeated today.

In addition, the PFI model upon which this contract was based has been disbanded, and replaced by 'PF2.'

It therefore follows that any proprietary modelling or forecasting based on the PFI model circa 2000 would not be in any way relevant to the commercial environment in 2018, and therefore the claimed harm to commercial interests is highly unlikely to materialise. In addition, the flow of PFI deals has evaporated, and the opposition have called for PFI arrangements to be banned - a view reflected by the wished of 68% of British citizens.

Ultimately, the release of commercially sensitive information must be subjected to a public interest test, and that test should consider the commercial context - that public assets (land and buildings) have been handed over to the private sector under the STEPS contract, with the taxpayer charged millions of pounds in annual interest payments, on bank loans at 14% interest rates for the dubious privilege.

Therefore, a substantial public interest case exists for the full commercial terms upon which the STEPS PFI deal was struck to be made fully public to allow for effective scrutiny, albeit 20 years after the fact.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Joel M Benjamin

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

Our ref: IR2018/00348

Dear Mr Benjamin,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Acknowledgement

Thank you for your communication of 13th February which has been passed to
HMRC's Freedom of Information Team.

We have allocated the above reference which you should quote if you need
to contact us.

The Team will arrange for a reply to be sent to you which will either
comply with HMRC's obligations under Freedom of Information Act or, if we
think it's an enquiry that we don't need to address under the terms of the
Act, let you know why. If it is the latter we will, if possible, pass it
on to a more appropriate part of the Department for answer.

Yours sincerely

HMRC Freedom of Information Act Team

Dear [email address] on behalf of FOI Central Team,

Please note that a response to this FOI request is now overdue. Please reply ASAP

Yours sincerely,

Joel M Benjamin

foi.team@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk on behalf of FOI Central Team, HM Revenue and Customs

1 Attachment

Dear Joel Benjamin,

I am writing in response to your request for information, received 13th
February.

Yours sincerely,

HMRC Freedom of Information Team

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Joel M Benjamin please sign in and let everyone know.

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